One of the risks of using social media networks is having information you intend to share with only a handful of friends be made available to everyone. Sometimes that over-sharing happens because friends betray your trust, but more worrisome are the cases in which a social media platform itself exposes your data in the name of marketing.
Cyber Dust is a standard messenger app. It’s like WhatsApp meets Snap Chat where you can chat to anyone who has the app installed. It works with Apple, Android, and Windows devices giving you the ability to send a quick text, photo, or video message without having to worry about the message getting saved since it deletes itself after a certain amount of time. When setting up the app, all you need to do is create a an account, the app lets you connect to social networks or scan your contacts to find other people who use the application. Once you have added some friends, you are able to start sending messages.
There are three different types of messages you can send: dusts, group dusts, and blasts. Dusts are messages between you and one friend. Group dusts let you message with a group of up to 12 people. The group dust is a new phenomenon because it not only lets you send a message to a select group, but also allows everyone in the group to see each person’s response. Blasts let you send messages to all the people you select. Blasts also let you add a location by choosing your current location or a nearby place. If a user taps the location, they will be taken to a map view and can also be directed outside of the app.
The overall functionality of the app is very similar to Snapchat, where you have a list of friends you can send “snaps” to or you can share your snap story with your full list of friends. Users also have the option to “pin” their own sent messages in order to remember the conversation. If you pin a sent message, it will remain at the top of the chat room until you leave.
More than others, it provides a secure and simple way to communicate openly and honestly with individuals or groups of people. Texts sent via Cyber Dust automatically disappear seconds after being read. Importantly, these messages cannot be traced and are not stored anywhere – not even on Cyber Dust’s servers – assuring all users a high level of privacy and security. Also too, the app will either let you know when someone takes a screen shot of your messages and on the Android, will let you disable screenshots entirely.
Even though the app does not require you to input your email or phone number, it does ask you if it can have access to your contacts so as to find other users you can potentially connect with. If you want to stay as secure as possible, my recommendation here would be to disallow access to your contacts but then add your friends based on their individual usernames.
Cyber Dust taps into the anonymous messaging trend and brings a few competitive advantages to the table, including the group dust feature and the ability to use photos from your phone’s photo library. However, the social app landscape is constantly changing. With the Snapchat hack last October, the Whisper messaging service being attacked for tracking personal data, and even the Sony email hack, people are nervous about sending sensitive information to others. Time will tell whether some of these security/privacy breaches are enough to drive people away from these messaging apps for good.