What is Peer to Peer (P2P) Messaging?

Everyone is demanding decentralization in every corner, whether it’s finance or communications. Peer-to-Peer networking is playing a huge role in creating a decentralized world where people can exchange anything without the need of a third party.

This model also incorporates Peer to Peer (P2P) messaging. The P2P model has been around for decades, but it is still not widely adopted. Companies and individuals still rely on the client-server model for a variety of reasons, but such centralized systems also pose some risks to privacy.

Peer to Peer Messaging – Explained

A peer-to-peer model gives equal status to all peers in a network. These peers may have limited physical capacity, but they are all given the same rights that they can equally use. In the case of peer-to-peer messaging, a peer’s mobile server might not be powerful enough as the mainframe.

Peer to Peer Network
A Representation of Peer to Peer Model

P2P messaging is a robust model of communication that provides a decentralized channel where no third party can interfere, store, sell or alter any data. Such a network consists of interconnected nodes that communicate with each other directly without the need for a server.

How does P2P Messaging Work?

All our communication is passed through servers under normal circumstances. Some communications servers of companies such as WhatsApp, Viber, Signal may ensure utmost security but still they are storing your private data that is a huge risk to your privacy.

A P2P messaging model has its own protocols where peers are interconnected with each other without any server to exchange any messages. These secured protocols normally break and encrypt your messages to make them unreadable for an intruder. These messages are then communicated to the requested peer without any interruption.

Why P2P Messaging?

Although many messaging and communication apps such as WhatsApp ensures end-to-end privacy by following specific protocols, then why is p2p messaging still a thing?

P2P messaging uses peers as both the “clients” and the “servers” to establish a connection. This direct connection does not require any support from a server because peers themselves are handling and responding to the requests. This makes the whole architecture more secure because the need for a third-party server is eliminated.

Is P2P Messaging Secure

P2P messaging might seem entirely secure at the surface, but it has its own risks. The technology is not 100% foolproof because if one peer is compromised then all their data will be at risk.

Hence, it entirely depends on the peer-to-peer messaging provider what protocols they use to secure their peers from getting hacked or compromised. If they assure excellent security, then P2P messaging is perhaps the most secure option for individuals and companies.

End-to-End Encryption vs Peer-to-Peer Model

End-to-end encryption is a widely adopted method to secure communications over servers. However, P2P is a completely decentralized way of communication that eliminates the need for any servers. Let’s dig deep and learn more about both these models.

End-to-End Encryption

Whenever a user sends a message through an end-to-end encrypted messaging app such as WhatsApp, their messages are first encrypted before they are stored on the server. The communication is stored on multiple servers, but only in encrypted form. However, this message is converted to its original form when it reaches the receiver.

In the case of popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger, end-to-end encryption is pretty reliable because companies use strong protocols to secure their servers and your encrypted messages. However, there is still a possibility that your data can be compromised and decrypted if attackers exploit any flaw in the company’s server.

Advantages Risks
●        Communication is not interrupted by attackers.

●        Messages are secured to a large extent

●        Servers are tightly secured to prevent any upcoming attack

●        The copy of your data is distributed among various servers.

●        The data can be decrypted by hackers if encryption was weak enough

●        The data can be sold to other companies

Peer-to-Peer Model

The P2P messaging model poses fewer risks, but only if it is configured properly. All peers are interconnected with each other, and they act as servers and clients for secured communication. The best thing about a peer-to-peer model is that data is never stored anywhere on the server. All peers have equal rights to communication.

Advantages Risks
●        Data is not stored on the servers

●        Information cannot be copied to various locations

●        Peers act both as the client and the server

●        The P2P model is prone to routing attacks because all peers follow a similar route.

●        This mode is more prone to malware attacks because there is no server to filter requests

Which Apps Support P2P Messaging?

There are only a few widely used messaging apps that support P2P messaging. One of these apps is ShazzleChat that uses secured protocols to enable peer-to-peer communication while eliminating many threats.

If you want to partially make use of P2P messaging, then Telegram is the most trustable and go-to option. However, it automatically switches to the nearest server if P2P is not possible. If you are looking for voice or video call communication then Signal seems to be the most reliable option. However, Signal messages go through their servers before they are sent to the receivers.

Bottom Line

Peer-to-Peer messaging is a safer way of establishing communications. However, there are many flaws that need to be addressed before we entirely depend on this model to make decentralization a reality. Still, P2P messaging is a solid option for those who prioritize security over everything.

Individuals are becoming more aware of how their data is treated on servers for advertising and other malicious purposes. This all happens because our communication is centralized to the servers of various companies that store and process our data. However, we can prevent it if we perfect our decentralized P2P system for single-handed communications.