Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Filled Under:

How to Communicate Securely from Your Android Using Whisper Systems


How to Communicate Securely from Your Android Using Whisper Systems

Privacy of communication is often one of the top concerns for activists in countries that monitor the airwaves and the Internet. These applications for Android from Whisper Systems allow users to communicate securely via text or voice.
Privacy of communication is often one of the top concerns for activists in countries that monitor the airwaves and the Internet. Responding to this need, Whisper Systems has created a suite of mobile applications that encode communications and storage on Android-based smartphones. All of Whisper’s apps are still in beta-stage testing, but can be downloaded nonetheless. RedPhone and TextSecure allow secure voice and text communications, respectively. Flashback, “stores encrypted backups of your device in the cloud.” WhisperCore, is a platform based in providing security to the entire phone, from smudge-resistant locks to selective permissions. WhisperCore includes Flashback and WhisperMonitor, which functions as a mobile firewall.
The two most popular Whisper app are RedPhone and TextSecure. According to the developers, these free apps “encrypt your voice calls and text messages, protecting your communication from anyone who tries to listen in.” Demonstrating their dedication to secure communication in volatile situations, Whisper Systems has made downloading RedPhone and TextSecure to an Egyptian phone as simple as visiting their website and entering your cell phone number. Others may still download these apps, but must visit the Android market do so.

Step 1. 

Open the Android marketplace application on your Android-based smartphone; Whisper applications are not yet available for iPhones and Blackberries. Search for “RedPhone” if you want voice call encryption, “TextSecure” is you want text message encryption, and “Flashback” if you want encrypted cloud back-up storage. All apps are free to download. WhisperCore must be installed manually from a computer.

Step 2. 

To call someone using RedPhone, open RedPhone and select the contact from your address book. If they are not in your address book, merely dial their number outside of the app and add a * to the end.


According to Whisper Systems’ FAQ page, “Your mobile carrier may charge you for receiving a single text message when you receive an incoming call [via RedPhone].”

Step 3. 

To text someone using TextSecure, open TextSecure. You will be prompted to create a password, which will be used to log in to the app every time you open it. After creating a password, you can select contacts to text, just as you would outside the app. If the person you are texting has TextSecure, your communications are encrypted and cannot be monitored.


According to Whisper Systems’ FAQ page, “It could certainly be possible, however, for a powerful adversary with the ability to monitor all network traffic to do traffic correlation in order to determine who is calling who.” Essentially, Whisper apps will do the job, but they are not invincible. As ever, you should be cautious with sensitive data.

Step 4. 

To install WhisperCore, you must first download an installer here. Then, follow the onscreen prompts. All content on your phone will be wiped in order to refill and encrypt it, so make sure to back up your phone before installing. Once your phone is running with WhisperCore, you will be prompted to create a passcode. You will have the option to set up a limited trial version of WhisperMonitor, which monitors all outgoing data traffic, allowing you to choose which address and port to use. Connection history can also be monitored.

Step 5. 

To use Flashback, merely open the app and click “initiate backup.” Flashback will even copy and encrypt content on an SD card, if one is installed. Backups for all of your Whisper-secured devices can be viewed, restored, and deleted from each device. Automatic backups can also be scheduled.