'Secure Haze' Messaging App More Haze Than Secure

Update: Secure Haze CEO James Lepton has updated us on Secure Haze's pricing: encrypted messaging and file sharing are now free, as are unencrypted voice and video calling. Encrypted voice and video require a subscription.

It's no secret that messaging app WhatsApp, despite its popularity, has some serious security issues. Now yet another WhatsApp challenger has appeared: Secure Haze, a messaging, voice and video-calling app for iOS, Android, PC and Mac that claims its security and encryption chops put it a head above the competition.

Secure Haze is free to download, but to actually use its security features, you'll have to pay $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year. For that, you'll get access to secure instant messaging, voice calls, video calls and file sharing, according to the Liechtenstein-based company's website. You can also use the app for free, but communications sent that way won't be secure.

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When Secure Haze security is activated, the company says its app uses end-to-end encryption with a 2048-bit key, which means that a message sent from point A to point B is encrypted at point A in such a way that only point B can decrypt it. The message is indecipherable to any middle men on its way to its destination.

Secure Haze didn't specify the encryption algorithm used in the end-to-end encryption, but a 2048-bit key is a sort of passcode with a length of 2,048 bits (ones and zeroes) that unlocks encrypted messages. Its length makes it virtually impossible to crack. 

As with other messaging apps, your friends will also need to have the app for you to communicate with them, and they'll need to be paying for the in-app security for your messages to be secure. If your friends are cheap (and you're feeling generous) you can pay for their subscription so the two of you can communicate securely. 

Secure Haze's security seems to extend to itself: Neither its press releases nor its website seem to name any employees, its website registration is hidden behind a proxy and its sole point of contact is a PR representative with a New York telephone number.

Secure Haze claims to be unique, but after testing the app, we would still recommend rival apps Wickr and Silent Circle to people looking for secure messaging. Wickr, which also offers end-to-end-encrypted self-destructing messages and file transfers, is free to use. Silent Circle's Silent Phone and Silent Text services cost as much as Secure Haze's, but have the advantage of being well-known and trusted in the security field.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us@TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.