Do you want to know which are the best encrypted private messaging applications and how they can protect your valuable data? This guide may be exactly what you’re looking for.
The best encrypted private messaging applications
People are more concerned about their privacy than ever before. Facebook doesn’t seem to do enough about privacy, companies are involved in data collection almost constantly, and it’s hard to know who to trust.
New products are constantly coming out to combat this problem. Messaging applications or private chats are some of the most important technologies in this regard. The apps on this list have similar characteristics. They allow end-to-end encryption so that no one knows what you’re communicating.
Some of them have the disadvantage of not being very widespread and complete security requires that everyone involved in the communication has the application active on their phone. That’s why we give you plenty of alternatives so that you can get to know them and start spreading those that suits you best among your contacts.
Also, there are some interesting projects in development, such as Utopia (learn more), but they require more testing or do not yet have mobile applications.
You might think that all the confidential data shared is safe through Facebook Messenger or Snapchat, but sometimes it is just an illusion. The events where Facebook shared users’ private information with Cambridge Analytica in what appears to be one of the largest data breaches on the social network should make us more aware of the importance of data privacy.
Without end-to-end encryption, your conversations are likely to get into the hands of cyber-crooks and other malicious actors dedicated to stealing them.
End-to-end encryption means encrypting communications so that information is not available to third parties. Therefore, when two or more devices communicate through an application that has this level of encryption, the information is transmitted using a secret code instead of insecure plain text.
As a result, only the people involved in the communication can read the messages and no one else can do so. Not even Internet service providers, the application manufacturer, the government, or anyone else.
Data is protected against manipulation, surveillance, and cyber criminals while it is being transmitted and stored. The encryption key is stored locally, for better protection.
WhatsApp’s proprietary encrypted messaging application sends messages using end-to-end encryption. However, WhatsApp still stores phone number information and other metadata, including who the messages were sent to and when. For that reason, it is not on our list.
Security experts believe that:
“Although encryption in transit is widely used, it has serious security problems.
For example, the Internet service provider could be hacked by competitors, or compromised by insider information, resulting in the leakage of confidential information. An Internet provider failure could cause data to be corrupted.
For these reasons, security experts are pushing for widespread use of end-to-end encryption, which reduces exposure to such attacks.
Signal Private Messenger
Signal Private Messenger is one of the most popular private messaging applications. Like most, it has its problems, but the product, in general, is quite decent. It allows voice and video calls, text messages, and even SMS.
It also features end-to-end encryption. However, this only works if both people use Signal to send messages to each other. Some other features include good design, group chats, and it is open source.
The signal is also WIRED’s secure messaging recommendation because “it’s free, it works on all mobile platforms, and the developers are committed to keeping the application simple and fast by not ruining the user experience with ads, web tracking, stickers or emoji animations”.
Telegram is another popular option for private conversations. It has most of the same features as Signal. This includes end-to-end encryption, group chats (with up to 100,000 members), voice calls, and more. It even has self-destructive messages.
Encryption needs to be activated from the configuration, and both people need Telegram for the encryption to work. The application is totally free, with no ads or purchases in the application.
Threema is a practical and somewhat familiar private messaging application. It has the normal features that we consider essential to be part of this list, including end-to-end encryption.
It also includes encrypted voice calls and many of the features that are usually managed on a local server on the user’s device, as well as contacts. Like most, encryption only works if both people are using Threema.
Note: This application is not free on both platforms. You need to pay $2,99.
Viber is one of the most popular chat applications, private or not. Millions of people use it. Viber offers end-to-end encryption, voice calls, video calls, text messages, group chats, and extra fun features like stickers. You can purchase more stickers with purchases in the application.
It also allows you to delete sent messages, and you can hide chats in a different part of the application. As usual, it only allows end-to-end encryption if you all use Viber. Otherwise, it’s just like any other chat application.
Another secure text messaging application you can use to communicate with your friends, family, and acquaintances. This application has a rather unusual history. It was originally developed by a team of Japanese engineers as a solution to communicate after the devastating earthquake of Tōhoku in 2011.
The disaster damaged the telecommunications infrastructure throughout the country, so the only way to communicate was based on Internet-connected platforms.
In the same year, LINE incorporated end-to-end encryption into its platform. This feature is available to all its users. You only have to activate it to benefit from it. It is also free to download.
Like other private chat applications listed above, KakaoTalk is a Korean-based messaging application that fully encrypts our conversations from 2014. To benefit from this feature, you must use the “Secret Chat” feature, inspired by Telegram.
This feature gives users the option to protect messages with the option of end-to-end encrypted chat. However, the default chat mode of KakaoTalk is not end-to-end encrypted, so you must enable it.
Developers boast that KakaoTalk is used by over 90% of smartphone users in South Korea, so privacy and data security are the main concerns.
Formerly known as Cyber Dust, it is another private messaging application that uses end-to-end encryption as the main security and privacy feature. It is similar to Snapchat in the way it works.
You can delete your messages from other people’s phones. There are no messages permanently stored on phones or servers. The messages are heavily encrypted and no one can access them, not even the application developers.
What Dust is trying to create is a social communication platform with greater security and privacy, by using a combination of AES 128 and RSA 248 encryption.
Wickr – Secure Messenger
Another chat application that offers end-to-end encryption was created in 2012 by a group of security experts and privacy advocates.
This application is open source and does not require a phone number or email address to register. Created with privacy in mind, Wickr does not collect data or have access to user data.
This page dedicated to the encryption standard used at Wickr is extremely useful if you are interested in better understanding how end-to-end encryption works.
CoverMe is another secure chat application that uses end-to-end encryption technology to better protect your sent messages and files from potential intruders trying to access them.
With the app, you can also make encrypted voice calls without any record on your phone bill. The app also includes a vault or private capsule feature for added security. So you can use it to store your files and hide videos, photos, passwords, and any files.
Another messaging app that focuses on keeping your messages safe, using encryption for text and MMS messages. Similar to Signal and Wickr Me, it is open source and free.
Formerly known as SMSecure, the Silence application has a simple and friendly interface and uses encrypted SMS messages without the need for an internet connection.
Download for Android.
If you are an Android or iOS user, you can start chatting and sending messages with the Pryvate application.
It won the “Best Mobile App” award in 2015 and ensures that your communications are encrypted and totally secure.
This messaging application offers world-class RSA 4096-bit encryption technology and uses NO servers or intermediaries for communications, so users can enjoy direct communications with colleagues, friends, or family.
It includes a “self-destruct” feature that allows you to delete all messages sent to the recipient’s device at any time.
This small mobile messaging application uses end-to-end encryption technology for every text, image, and voice you send to one of your friends or co-workers so that no stranger can read it.
The Surespot application does not share any data about you and transfers the conversations securely to other devices. In this guide, you can learn how the application works and how you can protect all your mobile messages.
It is worth knowing that it does not use or store your data.
Here’s another great encrypted messaging application worth trying. Unlike other services, it offers end-to-end encryption by default to secure your conversations, files, and images, etc.
It is an open-source, collaborative platform, and has many useful features: fully encrypted video calls, secure file sharing, synchronization between devices, and many others. Wire also has a free version for personal use (after creating an account) and a paid version for organizations (large companies).
It works on all the most used platforms: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, and different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera).