What telegram can do?



Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service that has been making the rounds as a popular option for those who wish to keep their messages secure and to ensure that their privacy isn’t at risk. Telegram boasts a collection of different features, but it’s best known for its ability to secure messages and media by encrypting them during transit; this prevents third parties from snooping on messages easily.

 

Let’s take a look at what Telegram can do and why you might want to use it.

Are you looking for the best secure way to communicate with friends and family? The signal is another secure messaging app that puts a strong emphasis on user privacy.

Encryption and Secret Chats

Telegram’s stand-out feature is its encryption scheme that keeps messages and media secure in transit. The scheme is known as MTProto and is based on 256-bit AES encryption, RSA encryption, and Diffie-Hellman key exchange. The result of this complicated and technical-sounding jargon? A messaging service that claims to keep your data safe.

Why do we say claims? When dealing with security, you always want to leave room for scrutiny, and a few cryptography experts have criticized the system. Overall, any level of encryption is better than none, but a level of discretion should always be observed with any online connected system, even Telegram. The company seems very sure of its own security though. So sure, they even held a cracking contest where people could win $300,000 for deciphering encrypted Telegram messages. Plus, Telegram still welcomes security comments and submissions, and if those comments result in a change, they may be eligible for bounties through the company’s bug bounty program.

Secret Chats are one of the service’s additional security features; it allows messages to be sent with client-to-client encryption. This setup means that, unlike regular messages, these secret messages can only be accessed from the devices that initiated and accepted the chat. Additionally, Telegram notes that secret chats offer a self-destruct timer. When the timer runs out, the message disappears from both devices (sender and recipient), and they’ll even try to send a notification if a screenshot is taken, but they can’t guarantee they’ll catch every screenshot.

Telegram falls somewhere in the middle of the privacy scale, and it stands apart from other messenger apps because of its efforts to create a social network-style environment. While it doesn't collect as much data as WhatsApp, it also doesn't offer encrypted group calls like WhatsApp, nor as much user data privacy and company transparency as Signal. Data collected by Telegram that could be linked to you includes your name, phone number, contact list, and user ID. 

Telegram also collects your IP address, something else Signal doesn't do. And unlike Signal and WhatsApp, Telegram's one-to-one messages aren't encrypted by default. Rather, you have to turn them on in the app's settings. Telegram group messages also aren't encrypted. Researchers found that while some of Telegram's MTProto encryption scheme was open-source, some portions were not, so it's not completely clear what happens to your texts once they're in Telegram's servers. 

Telegram has seen several breaches. Some 42 million Telegram user IDs and phone numbers were exposed in March of 2020, thought to be the work of Iranian government officials. It would be the second massive breach linked to Iran, after 15 million Iranian users were exposed in 2016. A Telegram bug was exploited by Chinese authorities in 2019 during the Hong Kong protests. Then there was the deep-fake bot on Telegram that has been allowed to create forged nudes of women from regular pictures. Most recently, its GPS-enabled feature allowing you to find others near you has created obvious problems for privacy

I reached out to Telegram to find out whether there were any major security plans in the works for the app, and what its security priorities were after this latest user surge. I'll update this story when I hear back.

In Telegram, you can have up to 200,000 people in a group chat. In Signal, you can only have up to 1000 people. In Telegram, you can transfer files up to 2 GB in size. In Signal, you can only transfer files up to 100 MB in size.

Telegram offers cloud message synchronization—you can even sign into Telegram on the web and continue your conversations. That’s a tradeoff—unlike in Signal, where your conversations are all stored locally on your devices, the conversations are all stored on Telegram’s servers. (Unless you start a “Secret Chat.”)

Telegram lets you add bots to conversations, but this means that conversations you add bots to have less private encryption. The signal doesn’t have bots that can interact with conversations, ensuring privacy—but not giving you the option to use bots.

Overall, the Telegram app also has a shinier interface, with more available sticker packs, animated stickers, and customizable background images for your conversations. As of January 11, 2021, Signal is working on adding many of these features.

If some of Telegram’s features appeal to you—for example, if you want bots, very large group chats, or transfers of larger files, that’s a good argument for using Telegram. Maybe you’re fine with storing all your conversations on a cloud server for convenience, but you just want to get away from Facebook—that’s a good argument for using Telegram.

Of course, which service you end up using depends on which service your friends, family, coworkers, and other people you want to talk to use. You might even end up using both to talk to different people. Feel free to give both a try.

Ultimately, either Signal or Telegram beats WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger when it comes to privacy. Neither app is linked to Facebook, as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are. Both Signal and WhatsApp are much more secure than SMS, which allows your cellular carrier to see every message you send.

Telegram channels are different from Telegram groups, though they do appear to be similar. For instance, Telegram groups can have up to 200,000 users, and they can be open to the public.

Channels, on the other hand, are specifically designed for broadcasting messages to a large audience. Unlike groups, they are not designed for conversations.

You can have an unlimited number of subscribers to a public or private channel. Public channels get their own “www.t.me/username” URL.

Only the channel owner or the admin can post to the channel, each message has a view count and details of who shared the message, and channels can include rich media like video, audio, polls, and more.

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