What are the best secure messaging apps? 10 of the most secure messaging apps
Nobody wants to feel unsafe online. Messaging apps have a responsibility to be secure and provide privacy and protection for users.
It's no surprise, then, that finding the most secure messaging app is becoming a priority for modern companies (and users!) that have already or are planning to adopt an app.
In-app messaging is a vital piece of any user-to-user or business-to-user app. Your customers should feel secure to message vendors, delivery drivers, doctors, business reps, and other customers without the risk of being hacked.
Brands want to enable a great communication experience. And they can ensure a trustworthy app experience with these top secure chat and messaging apps that ensure the highest level of security.
In this article, we're comparing sixteen popular secure chat apps including Telegram, Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp, Threema, and Wire. We'll dive into the pros, cons, and key features of each app so you can decide which is the best fit for you.
Features to look for in a secure messaging app
- Encrypted messaging apps: Apps should be end to end encrypted
- Private messaging: Messages reach only the intended recipients
- Voice and video calls
- Group chats/group messaging
- Secure communication
- Disappearing messages
- Security features for file sharing, text messages, photos, and more
- Limited security breaches: A company should be able to provide transparency reports
The ultimate list of secure messaging apps
From iOS and Android-specific messaging apps, to social chat apps like WhatsApp, there are various options when it comes to encrypted messaging platforms. Here are the top 10 most popular secure messaging apps.
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10 most secure messaging apps
Signal is a messaging app that's well known for its security and privacy features. The platform offers end-to-end encryption for all messages, as well as the ability to create secure group chats. Signal also lets you verify the identity of the person you're communicating with and set messages to self-destruct, similar to apps like Telegram.
- Encryption: Signal uses end-to-end encryption every message, ensuring only the sender and recipient can read the messages. This end-to-end encryption protects against third-party interception.
- Open source: As an open source app, Signal's code is publicly available for everyone to review and audit. This helps ensure that the app doesn't contain any vulnerabilities or backdoors that could compromise the security of the messages. But open source software only has the potential to be more secure than closed source. It's up to the builders, developers, and users to keep eyes on it (but not your messages!).
- Two-step verification: Enabling two-step verification helps prevent unauthorized access. It's an extra level of security.
- No cloud storage: Signal stores messages locally on the device, which means more privacy.
Signal is a strong choice for secure messaging because of its strong encryption and open source nature. But users should be aware of its limited features and lack of cloud storage.
- Limited features: Signal has fewer features compared to other secure messaging apps. For example, it doesn't offer the ability to send videos or make voice or video calls.
- No cloud storage: Signal stores messages locally on the device, which means they aren't accessible from other devices.
Telegram has excellent features and cross-device compatibility. It makes the list of most secure chat apps because it offers end-to-end encryption and the ability to create secret chats with self-destructing messages. You can also share photos and videos with this app that prioritizes security and speed.
- Encryption: Encryption scrambles data so that only authorized parties can understand what's going on. Only authorized parties can unscramble the message.
- Secret chats: Telegram's feature “Secret Chats” allow users to set a self-destruct timer for their messages. This means that the messages will be deleted from the recipient and senders' chat history after a certain amount of time has passed, adding an extra layer of privacy.
- Two-step verification: Users receive a code through email or SMS to verify their identity and allow them into the app.
- Cloud storage: Messages are not stored locally.
Although Telegram provides strong security and privacy features for messaging, system errors and unorganized notifications are notable reviews. Users should be aware of the potential vulnerabilities and take steps to protect their data, such as using strong passwords and enabling that two-step verification.
- Centralized infrastructure: Telegram's servers are owned and operated by a single company, giving that company access to the messages and data stored on its servers. This could be a potential security risk.
- Vulnerable to skilled attackers: While Telegram's encryption provides strong protection against most threats, it is still possible for sophisticated attackers to bypass it.
iMessage is Apple's chat system, only available for iOS devices. Just like Telegram and Signal, it offers end-to-end encryption for all messages. One of the key benefits of iMessage is its integration into the iOS operating system, making it compatible with other Apple products. Another great feature is secure group chats.
- Encryption: Each user's outgoing message is individually encrypted for each of the receiver's devices.
- Integration with other Apple products: Full integration allows iMessages to be sent easily between devices.
- Two-step verification: An added security step for users to verify their identity. Usually sent through SMS or email.
Although iMessage is a strong choice for secure messaging, users should be aware of its limited availability and the potential for sophisticated attackers to bypass its encryption.
- Limited to Apple devices: iMessage is only available for Apple devices. For messages between Apple and Android devices, SMS is used.
- Vulnerable to attackers: While iMessage's encryption provides strong protection against most threats, sophisticated attackers may still be able to bypass it.
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WhatsApp is a multi-platform messaging app that, in addition to being a chat application, allows for video and voice calls, polls, and other reactions. WhatsApp is incredibly popular, making it an easy choice to connect with friends, family, and customers. With more than 2,000 million active monthly users, it has to be one of the most secure messaging apps on the market.
- Two-step verification
- Widely used: WhatsApp is used by over two billion people around the world, making it a convenient choice for messaging with a large number of people from diverse locations.
WhatsApp's cons are similar to those of iMessage. Skilled attackers could bypass encryption or get access through passcodes. WhatsApp is also notably owned by Facebook, with a history of questionable data practices.
- Vulnerable to skilled attackers
- Concerns about data privacy: WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which has a history of collecting and sharing user data. Some users may be concerned about the potential for WhatsApp to share their data with Facebook or other third parties.
Threema is a maximum security chat app. Threema offers encryption for text and calls, and doesn't require a phone number or email address to sign up. Data on Threema is stored locally on the device, this helps protect it from third-party interception.
- Open source: Like Signal, Threema is also an open source app, enabling members of the public to detect and remove vulnerabilities or backdoors that threaten security.
- No phone number or email required: Threema users can create an account using a unique Threema ID. Convenient for users who want to keep their personal information private.
Threema is not a free messaging app, and also does not support two factor identification.
- Limited to Threema users: Threema is only available to users who have the app, making it impossible to message with people who aren't on the app. And adoption of Threema is low in comparison to apps like WhatsApp.
- Vulnerable to advanced attackers
- Does not support two factor authentication
Wire considers itself a secure collaboration platform, mostly used for work purposes. Wire increases the productivity in teams. You can send messages, files, conference calls, and private conversations.
- Encryption: Even messages awaiting transfer to their recipients are encrypted and cannot be read by the company.
- Open source
- Two-step verification: Users can enable two-step verification for added security.
Wire is not ideal for personal use, and is better for professional or work settings. Wire also offers limited support for its users. Here are some other cons of this chat app:
- Some logging of personal data
- Limited to Wire users: Wire is only available to users who have the app.
- Vulnerability to skilled attackers: Sophisticated attackers may still be able to bypass Wire's encryption.
Rocket.Chat is one of the best secure messaging apps for enterprise companies. It complies with HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA, and the highest security standards to protect companies and their customers. It is highly customizable and supports integrations.
- End-to-end encryption
- Open source
- Configurable to meet specific industry regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, FINRA, and more
Rocket.Chat doesn't support some media-rich features including the sending of audio messages or voice calling.
- Can be difficult to locate messages
- Database sync issue: Necessary to ensure data synchronization between the database used by the backend and the Rocket.Chat database
NetSfere boasts industry leading encryption and allows IT administrators to manage communications. It is another great enterprise option that adheres to global privacy requirements like HIPAA, SOX, and DFA. It's great for industries like financial services, insurance, and travel & hospitality.
- End-to-end 256-bit AES encryption with elliptic curve key exchange algorithms
- Two-step verification
- ISO 27001 certified
- Reported audio and video load problems
Dust doesn't store anything on its own servers and prevents users from saving messages or media you send their way. All content on Dust is deleted after 100 seconds, or 24 hours if the message isn't read.
- End-to-end encryption
- Private web search
- Messages are permanently deleted
Even though Dust’s focus on safe texting makes them a great secure messaging app, Dust doesn't support video calls, voice messages, or large file uploads.
- Limited features: Dust doesn't offer video calls or voice messages
WickrMe was recently acquired by Amazon and is known for providing secure instant messaging. WickrMe is also notable for providing prizes to people who find security vulnerabilites in their open source code.
- Open source code: WickrMe provides Bug Bounties, or prizes for discovering bugs in the code.
- End to end encryption
- No phone number or email required
- Ephemerality: Wickr automatically deletes messages after a predetermined amount of time
WickrMe is Wickr's free offering. WickrPro supports voice calls, photos, and video conferencing. Upgrading gets you better features, not necessarily better security.
- Limited features: Dust doesn't offer video calls or voice messages
- Message handling is unusual: Messages are bound to both your account and a specific device.
- Now owned by Amazon: Amazon is a large multinational company based in the United States and therefore must comply with government requests for data.
What is the most secure chat app?
While secure messaging services with encryption and two-factor authentication offer a certain level of security, many of the apps listed here are still vulnerable to sophisticated attacks. Only secure messaging apps can provide the trust your customers need -- so which private chat messaging app is best to use?
If your organization is truly concerned about security, you may want to consider building your own chat app using a secure chat API such as Sendbird. This way, you can keep users on your proprietary app and maintain complete control over their experience.
Choose Sendbird to build your secure messaging app
Sendbird's chat API is a powerful tool that allows organizations to build their own secure chat and messaging platform within their own branded apps. Sendbird offers customizable features with end-to-end encryption through third-party platforms like Virgil Security.
Whatever features your customer or user is looking for, secure messaging is guaranteed with Sendbird. One of the best benefits of bringing messaging into your app is the ability to tailor the user experience to the specific needs of your customer base. Whether you're looking to create a messaging platform for internal communication, customer service, or something else entirely, Sendbird's chat API can be customized to meet your needs.
Sendbird's chat API also offers a number of security benefits, including secure group chats and self-destructing messages, giving you even more control over the security of your messaging platform.
Ready to explore Sendbird's chat API for your organization? Talk with our sales team today.