Encrypted Communications: Tools That Keep You Safe in Cyber Space

Between the NSA surveillance scandal and almost daily news of cyber hacks, the days of feeling secure and alone on your personal devices are over.

In this new Orwellian-age, a range of encrypted communication tools are flooding the market. A brand new one, I.CX, from Toronto web app security firm EveryBit, aims to give everyday users an experience they are comfortable with, while also protecting their content.

“We think that people already want more security but they either don’t know how to be more secure, or don’t want to have to handle keys and all the other details that encrypted communication entails,” says Adam Rafeek, a developer with EveryBit.

“People definitely don’t want their private photos and messages turning up on Reddit, and companies definitely don’t want all their sensitive information leaked for the world to see. We’re tackling both of those problems with I.CX by wrapping the hardcore crypto in an easy to use interface,” he explains.

I.CX is a web app that provides users with a secure alternative to email. The whole system works in your browser without having to download or install anything, and all encryption and decryption take place locally so no private content is exposed to the network.

“We use our own open source encryption platform called EveryBit.js that’s based on some of the same crypto used in Bitcoin,” Rafeek says.

“Encrypted communication applications have been around for a while now, but not like this,” he adds. “They’re usually hard to use or require some previous understanding of cryptography to be effective.”

Other tools currently on the market include:

Cryptocat, also an app for having encrypted chat right in your browser and mobile phone. Everything is encrypted before it leaves your computer. Even the Cryptocat network itself can’t read your messages.

Famously used by journalist Glenn Greenwald during his Hong Kong meeting with Edward Snowde, the tool was created by a 21-year-old student at Concordia University in Montreal in 2012. It is open source, free software.

RedPhone, for Android, provides end-to-end encryption for your calls, securing your conversations so that nobody can listen in.

TextSecure encrypts Android text and chat messages over the air and on your phone.

Signal, the same firm as the previous two, Open Whisper Systems, provides worldwide, encrypted voice calls for iPhone.