Does Google Hangouts Have End to End Encryption?
Right off the bat, the answer to the title question is no. Google Hangouts doesn’t have an end to end encryption. Google describes the Hangouts encryption as functional, as it encrypts messages in transit, i.e., when they get sent.
What this means is that Google has access to all of your messages on Hangouts. It’s up to you to decide if you’re OK with it or not. Stay with us for a more in-depth discussion, alongside safety tips and some alternative messaging app suggestions (with end to end encryption).
Google Hangouts – the Truth Behind the Curtains
Controversy always followed Google Hangouts, which was never a go-to messaging app. The competition is very rough in this category, with Facebook cementing itself on the throne of instant messaging with Messenger and WhatsApp clients.
One of the reasons why Hangouts is not as trusted as its competitors is because it lacks end to end encryption. In short, this type of encryption is the safest, because it protects the messages from any prying eyes. Only the sender and the receiver of the message can see the message.
People weren’t so concerned with their online privacy until Edward Snowden made his controversial reveals and shook up everyone. Following that, all major companies like Google and Apple doubled-down on their encryption systems.
The problem with Google Hangouts is that it was never safe enough. If you think that only Google has access to your messages on Hangouts, you’re wrong. Reportedly, they were sharing their users’ info with government agencies, but they didn’t want to disclose on how many occasions.
How to Use Google Hangouts Safely
Google Hangouts is not so bad on iOS or Android if you know how to stay safe online. The first thing you should avoid is sending image URLs if they are sensitive. Hangouts use public URL sharing, which is very vulnerable to third-party attention.
A person doesn’t need to be a hacker to get ahold of these public images, so keep that in mind. The safest way you can use Google Hangouts or any other online app is with a trustworthy VPN service.
ExpressVPN is ahead of its competition, being the worldwide number one VPN client. The official site provides more details and the signup form. You don’t need special encryption for any app if you are connected to a reliable VPN since it adds layers of security.
The best thing about ExpressVPN is that it works on nearly any modern device, including tablets, phones, computers, routers, etc.
Try Some Safer Alternatives
You can stick with Google Hangouts if you want, but there are some better alternatives with end to end encryption. Some options are more popular than the others, but fundamentally they are all safer than Google Hangouts.
WhatsApp is a world-renowned app used by millions daily. It offers all the messaging app functionality with end-to-end encryption. This encryption was added in 2016, and it works. Only the sender and the receiver can see the messages. The same goes for audio and video calls on the app.
You can get WhatsApp on Android or iOS devices. Additional WhatsApp security measures include passcode account verification and encryption code verification on your contact details menu. And WhatsApp guarantees that it doesn’t store any messages.
Wickr is a messaging app that’s rising in popularity thanks to its security features. It has a personal use app and business use app. You can use Wickr on Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and Windows devices. Not only are messages encrypted with end to end encryption, but the calls are too.
On top of that, the app features screenshot notifications if it picks up on users trying to save some messages. Furthermore, the iOS Wickr app blocks out third-party keyboards, and on Android, it blocks screen overlays. The final security measure is the secure shredder, which protects the files you have previously deleted from your device (which can be dug up otherwise).
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Signal, which is the standard-setting secure messaging app. They have a stellar end to end encryption system, and not even they (app developers) can decrypt your messages.
Voice and video calls are encrypted too. Their code is open source, which provides full transparency. If you want, you can send messages that vanish after some time, for extra precaution. This app doesn’t store any additional info, and it only saves the data it needs. Finally, there is a two-step password security option you can use.
Signal is available for Windows, iOS, and Android devices.
Stay Safe Online
Google Hangouts has flawed encryption, which is acceptable to some, while others avoid it because of that. If you want to keep using it, remember to enable a secure VPN protocol.
The alternatives we offered here use end to end encryption, and if that is your primary concern, we advise using them over Google Hangouts. What is your preferred messaging app? Why did you pick it? Share your answers and questions in the comments section below.