Tag Archives: Signal

Signal Rolls Out Usernames To Enhance User’s Privacy

For nearly a decade, cybersecurity professionals and privacy advocates have recommended the end-to-end encrypted communication’s app Signal as the gold standard for truly private digital communications. Using it however, has paradoxically required exposing one particular piece of private information to everyone you text or call: a phone number. Now, that’s changing, WIRED reported.

Today, Signal launched the rollout in beta of a long-awaited set of features it’s describing simply as “phone number privacy”. Those features, which WIRED has tested, are designed to allow users to communicate on the app and instead share a username as a less-sensitive method of connecting with one another.

Signal posted the following on their website:

Signal’s mission and sole focus is private communication. For years, Signal has kept your messages private, your profile information (like your name and profile photo) private, your contacts private, and your groups private — among much else. Now, we’re taking that one step further by making your phone number on Signal more private.

New default: Your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone in Signal

If you use Signal, your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone you chat with by default. People who have your number saved in their phone’s contacts will still see your phone number since they already know it.

Connect without sharing your phone number

If you don’t want to hand out your phone number to chat with someone on Signal, you can now create a unique username that you can use instead (you will still need a phone number to sign in for Signal). Note that a username is not the profile name that’s displayed in chats, it’s not a permanent handle, and not visible to the people you are chatting with in Signal. A username is simply a way to initiate contact on Signal without sharing your phone number.

Control who can find you on Signal by phone number

If you don’t want people to be able to find you by searching for your phone number on Signal, you can now enable a new, optional privacy setting. This means that unless people have your exact unique username, they won’t be able to start a conversation, or even know that you have a Signal account — even if they have your phone number.

Right now, these options are in beta, and will be rolling out to everyone in the coming weeks.

The Verge reported that if you do decide to create a username, it won’t appear on your profile details page or in your chats. Other users won’t be able to see it unless you share it. “Put another way someone will need to know your exact unique username in order to start a chat with you on Signal,” Randall Sarafa, the chief product officer at Signal, writes in a post announcing the features rollout.

In my opinion, privacy is very important for users of any social media website. Lack of privacy on any social media site can cause chaos and potential harm.

Signal Allows You to Change Your Phone Number

Signal announced that it will now allow users to change their phone number. It is an unusual choice for a company that identifies users based on their phone number. That said, it may be a feature that people who use Signal will be excited about.

Millions of people worldwide rely on Signal every day for secure and private communication. Some of these people change their phone number, but want to continue using Signal without registering for a new account. We now provide the ability to change the phone number on your Signal account, while retaining all of your chats, profile information, and groups.

There are two ways to change your phone number in Signal. If you are getting a new phone, but keeping your old number, you can use Signal’s end-to-end encrypted device-to-devise transfer on Android or iOS to carry your contacts and chat history over to your new device.

Signal recommends you do that before wiping or recycling your old device as Signal messages are excluded from built-in operating system and cloud backups.

If you are keeping your existing phone, but getting a new number, you can use the Change Number feature. It will let you keep your profile and all of your existing messages and groups on your device, while making you reachable at your new phone number.

The Signal Support website provides some additional details:

Change Number is supported if you can send and receive Signal messages on the phone with your old number, or are keeping the same phone and changing the number.

Change Number is not supported if you cannot send and receive Signal messages on the phone with your old number, do not have your old device, or lost your phone. It also won’t work if you have cleared your phone.

In order to change your number, you must be using the latest version of Signal available for that device. This means Android v5.30.6 or later, or iOS v5.27.1 or later.

Your contacts in Signal will see an alert in your chat that the phone number has changed.

Overall, I think this is a good idea. It gives Signal users the opportunity to change their phone number without losing anything. The process sounds quick and simple.