Text messaging is a communications medium that has exploded over the last decade or so. The number of text messages sent by the average person in the United States has already surpassed the number of calls made per person each month. It is especially prevalent among the younger demographics, but text messaging use is growing among all age groups. Text messaging is a very versatile form of communication. You can send quite a bit of information in 160 characters, and it does not require a lot of time to read and respond back quickly or when time allows.  

With all of the benefits of text messaging it should be the perfect communications medium, right? Well not exactly. Text messaging is not a very secure method of communication. The problem lies with how text messages are routed. They are sent from one device to a cell tower and possibly through several networks. Each network server keeps a copy of the message along the path. In the most simplistic texting, three copies of the text are retained. With texting across networks, who knows how many copies of your text are out there.

While most texts are innocuous and don’t reveal much personal data, there are still many texts that would be embarrassing if leaked to friends or other people in your life. In other cases, confidential business data is sent through text messaging networks. If that data is released to competitors, it could put the sending business at a competitive disadvantage. Celebrities also need to maintain a great deal of privacy in their communications. If a text message was intercepted, or forwarded to the wrong person it could be very embarrassing or result in tabloid fodder or scuttled plans.

Two other specific fields of practice are obligated to keep client data confidential.  Law firms and doctors are required to keep information secure. Sending personal patient data unencrypted, where it can be easily intercepted is prohibited by HIPAA. If any other company sends personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, address information or e-mail addresses they should also take data privacy seriously. Many companies have been successfully sued by clients for treating personal information carelessly.

So what is the solution, if you want both the convenience of texting with the security necessary to protect your texts from unwanted eavesdropping? Well there is an app that can be downloaded and used for free for the Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile and iPhone platforms called TigerText. All communications are encrypted, and you can determine how long the message is allowed to exist. If you want it to delete 60 seconds after it is read, Mission Impossible style you can do that. If you want it to exist for months you can do that too. Another cool feature of the application is the ability to see when a message is read and when it is received. The app also allows for free text messaging for anyone who has the app. If you still have a pay per text plan, this can save a lot of money.

The  TigerText app is free, and free to use. You can try the app out and see if it works well for your needs.  If you want secure communications via text message this is one of the best ways I have found. There is also a business version that makes setting up the app easy in a corporate environment.