Text messages or say SMS, were, and are a crucial part of our day-to-day communication method. Back in the early 2000s, text messages were in great trend and were almost used by every single person having a mobile cellular connection, but the main problem with this communication method was privacy. Text messages are not encrypted so the users can run into the risk of a privacy breach. Although with the advancement of technology VPN came into existence that brought traffic encryption into the picture. But the main concern is “Can VPN encrypt text messages?”
Let’s find out!
- 1 What is a VPN?
- 2 What is a text message?
- 3 Can a VPN encrypt text messages?
- 4 How does text messaging service work?
- 5 What are the things that are accessible to the cellular provider while using text messages?
- 6 Was text message encryption possible?
- 7 What can be done to Encrypt your text Messages?
- 8 Final Remarks on Can VPN encrypt text messages
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN), is a type of software that allows a user to encrypt his/her internet traffic so that it can’t be spied upon by Internet Service Providers or Government entities.
It works by acting as the middle man between you and the destination source which encrypts all your traffic and data. The encrypted traffic is so hard to decrypt, that your ISP will not be able to track your online activity. Also, it camouflages your original IP address by allotting you a secondary IP address for your anonymity.
Secondly, it also helps in breaking the shackles of geo-restrictions that are imposed by government or streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, allowing its users to gain access to their favorite content.
What is a text message?
A text message is a very normal word used to define the number of text characters, words, or several sentences sent between mobile phone or smartphone applications.
Whereas an SMS is a text message service carried out between two active users over the voice channel of a cellular network. SMS’s have general length limitations and are void of security features as they are plain texts without any type of encryption.
Can a VPN encrypt text messages?
No, text messages or SMSs cannot be encrypted using a VPN service because the working of a text message service is way different, plus the characters are not carried out with the help of the Internet but by voice cellular network, which is not supported by a VPN service. A VPN service needs a fully functioning internet connection in the form of either mobile data, Wi-fi, or ethernet.
How does text messaging service work?
So, if you want to find out why can’t a text message or an SMS service be encrypted with a VPN, you should first understand it’s working.
A text message or an SMS when sent from the sender’s device travels through only one or two private cellular networks. They are logged on the hardware owned by mobile service providers, read, and then directed to the other end. These systems are closed and have limited connectivity to the internet and are secure but not private.
The crazy downfall of this text service is that it is limited to 160 characters in the Latin alphabet, whereas only 70 characters in the Chinese alphabet.
Although, new SMS services have tried to resolve this problem of length limitation by using some transmission length on the receiving device and stringing multiple messages together.
But, as they say, nothing is permanent and so is the SMS service. People now prefer switching to instant messaging apps, that have end-to-end encryption and no character limit.
What are the things that are accessible to the cellular provider while using text messages?
Following are the things that are accessible to your cellular provider while using text message service:
- All of your text messages.
- Metadata from your text messages that are logged and kept.
- Date & Time.
- Sender information.
- Message length.
- Reception information.
Was text message encryption possible?
Yes, it was possible with the increased message size in the form of MMS service, but there were two problems in front of the developers; (1) Standardising how to encrypt and decrypt messages, and (2) Implementing those standards into the MMS applications, that was very much impractical on the non-smartphones.
As a result, many developers started to develop their messaging apps for smartphones that worked on the internet and had in-built end-to-end encryption.
What can be done to Encrypt your text Messages?
After this long discussion, it is clear that text messages are non-encrypted data, and cannot be encrypted via a VPN network. So, what can be done to encrypt them?
Well, you can follow these two solutions:
#1. Use text pasting service:
So, if you are still a fan of old-school text messaging services and want to encrypt your text messages, you can opt for a text pasting service like PrivateBin, which converts your text message into an encrypted link. This link fits well within a standard SMS length limit.
#2. Use modern messaging apps:
Second and the best solution to this problem is to stop using orthodox text messaging services and make an instant switch to modern/secure instant messaging apps. These instant messaging apps come with an in-built end-to-end encryption feature, that encrypts all your chats and media you send over through these apps.
They are fast, reliable, and are concerned about your privacy. Although you will need a working internet connection to start using these apps, as their primary need is the internet.
Apart from the end-to-end encryption method, these apps are packed with features like media sharing, link sharing, video calling, voice calling, and even money sharing. Plus, not to forget, as these apps use internet services, you can easily log into your VPN service provider and start encrypting your data.
Even if two users who use iPhone, are willing to communicate through iMessenger, they can stay rest assured about their messages being encrypted, as the iMessenger app also follows the end-to-end encryption method.
Here are some popular instant messaging apps for you:
Final Remarks on Can VPN encrypt text messages
Privacy is the biggest concern in this internet-centric world. We all crave privacy whether we are surfing the internet, downloading different kinds of stuff, or texting someone. As long as we are on our mobile phones, the fight for privacy will continue. Also, if you are text messaging someone with some explicit content or something offensive, it can be 100% used against you.
Therefore, if you are someone who is a regular texter and want to keep your chat history safe and private, I recommend using the new modern messaging apps that come with end-to-end encryption. Also, don’t forget to turn on your premium VPN connection which will act as an extra layer of security.