With the world growing more cyber than ever, online privacy issues, unfortunately, come with the territory. And our private messages are one of the targets that are most at risk for befalling to malicious intentions.
For example, large-scale security breaches of popular social media apps like Facebook and Instagram have been reported in recent years, affecting upwards of 50 million users worldwide. This makes us ask, what can we do to keep our messaging private and secure?
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is the golden standard that you need to look for when choosing a messaging app. E2EE is a method of encrypting data that ensures that only you and your recipient can read your messages, and any intercepting third party will not be able to decrypt your data. Some apps also feature more layers of security, like self-destructing messages and content shredding.
If you are looking for a more secure messaging app (which you should), here are 6 of the best options out there that are free to use on Android and iOS.
Signal is one of the pioneers of secure communication and is still arguably the best in the game in terms of privacy and security. With its own messaging protocol that is completely independent and open-source, Signal’s technology is vetted by multiple cybersecurity experts to be reliable and trustworthy. Aside from E2EE, Signal offers features like self-destructing messages and session verification to give you more control over your messages.
As an industry-standard, Signal’s technology has even been adopted by other messaging apps like Skype and WhatsApp. What’s more, it won’t be that difficult to transition to Signal because it has a somewhat similar interface with Facebook Messenger, albeit sparser in messaging features. Still, if you’re putting a premium on your security, Signal is one of the best options out there.
Also an open-source technology like Signal, Wickr is another messaging app that is recommended by the information security company because of its cutting-edge features for secure communication. Your messages are encrypted by default, any third-party ads and trackers are automatically blocked, and deleted files are completely unrecoverable via content shredding. Wickr also undergoes regular security audits to keep its services top-notch and trustworthy.
However, the main downside of using Wickr is the smaller number of users that are currently using the app compared to the more popular messaging apps. But once more people start using Wickr, it will definitely be a strong force in terms of secure communication.
If you’re looking for an encrypted messaging app that is fully featured and has a massive user base, WhatsApp is a great option to try out. You may even have it installed on your phone already, because WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform with more than 2 billion users worldwide. Despite this scale, WhatsApp has a very solid default encryption of your messages, adopting the protocol developed by Signal.
With WhatsApp, security does not come at the expense of functionality, because it sports several features like video calls, group chats, and comprehensive file transfer. Because of WhatsApp’s big user base, you also won’t have any trouble looking for your friends and family on the app. The drawback of WhatsApp, however, is that it is owned by Facebook, so it does raise some concerns about what metadata may be collected by Facebook through the platform.
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One of the messaging platforms that have gained popularity in recent years is Telegram because of its slick interface and high messaging functionality like WhatsApp. In terms of security, Telegram is a bit different from the ones we’ve mentioned so far. Unlike the other messaging apps already covered, Telegram’s end-to-end encryption is not set to default, and you will need to enable Secret mode to start encrypting your messages.
Additionally, Telegram’s technology is only semi-open-source. While the client-side code is open-source, the server-side code is not made available to the public. Still, if you need a popular messaging platform that offers a more secure ecosystem, Telegram is one of the options you need to consider. Just don’t forget to enable Secret mode.
What sets Dust apart from other platforms is that not only does it act as an encrypted messenger, but it’s also a private browser and a watchdog all rolled into one. This suite of digital safety tools is Dust’s effort to give its users more control online, not only over their messages but over their general online identity.
With Dust’s messenger platform, not only is end-to-end encryption set to default, but so are self-destructing messages. All messages are auto-deleted after 24 hours, and you can also delete messages in real-time from both your and your recipient’s phone. Once messages and files are deleted, they can no longer be recovered. Dust’s other tools like its own private browser and a watchdog for potential data breaches are also worth mentioning. So for whatever reason you may need to use Dust for, this app is definitely worth the try.
A strong mobile competitor against Skype’s video-calling and messenger service, Viber is another one of those popular platforms you may not have realized were already encrypting your messages. With Viber, E2EE is set as a default, and you can also enable self-destructing messages under its Secret Chats feature.
However, this level of security in Viber is only available for one-on-one messaging and video calls, unlike other apps that extend this security to group chats. Once Viber improves its encryption to also include larger groups and calls, it can be one of the more recommended platforms due to its high functionality and clean interface.
Which encrypted messaging apps have you tried? What other messaging platforms can you recommend? Share them with us in the comments below.