Skip to main content

The ultimate guide to secure messaging apps in 2024: 23 must-know encrypted messaging apps that safeguard your digital conversations

SBM blog CTA mobile 1

Drive growth and reduce costs with omnichannel business messaging

All the secure messaging apps you need to know in 2024

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 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 (U2U) or business-to-user (B2U) app. Your customers should feel secure in messaging 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.

In this blog, we’re going deep into secure messaging apps. We’ll discuss their overall importance, the benefits of secure messaging apps, end-to-end encryption, the role of open source development, popular secure messaging apps, and of course, our favorite platforms for building your own secure messaging app.

Let’s dig in.

The importance of using a secure messaging app

Whether using messaging for personal or business use, security is paramount. In a world with 5.8 billion unique mobile phone subscribers and 5.3 billion internet users (Meltwater), the majority of conversations are digital.

In that same vein, bad actors are most likely to gain confidential information via digital communication channels. And users who don't take the necessary precautions while messaging risk their personal safety and business security.

On the personal side, texting, emailing, or messaging via unencrypted apps can lead to the loss of private information like passwords, bank accounts, and personal records. In fact, the FBI reports that there are more than 100,000 cases of identity and user data breaches every year. If a hacker wanted to know where you were, who you interacted with, or other personal information, your message history would likely be the best spot to look.

Bad actors in business are constantly looking for unsecured channels to access privileged information. According to the IBM Data Breach Report, 83% of organizations experienced multiple data breaches in 2022. That same report reveals the financial impact can be significant. In 2022, the global average cost of data breaches was up to $4.35 million, and the number doubled in America to $9.44 million.

To state the obvious, it’s never been more critical to make a habit of using secure messaging apps, both for personal and business use.

What is a secure messaging app?

A secure messaging app is designed to offer enhanced privacy and security for digital communication. The level of security of a messaging app is not an exact science, but is generally measured by analyzing its features that are directly and indirectly used to protect the users’ messages from being accessed outside their intended use. Examples of security features for messaging apps include end-to-end encryption (E2EE), data privacy, self-destructing messages, and two-factor authentication.

We’ll provide a full breakdown of security features for messaging apps later in this post.

Why should you use a secure messaging app?

Secure messaging apps offer value to consumers, businesses, as well as government and public sectors. We touched briefly on some of the reasons why secure messaging apps are important, but now let’s dive into the details.

Reduce hacking incidents with an encrypted messaging app

Statistics in the field of cybersecurity reveal that, on average, there are about 2,200 cyberattacks each day, translating to a cyberattack approximately every 39 seconds. In the U.S., the average financial impact of a data breach is around $9.44 million. Furthermore, it is forecasted that the total cost associated with cybercrime and malware could reach a staggering $8 trillion by the year 2023 (Astra Security).

Using secure messaging apps is one way to shore up security to reduce the number of hacking incidents at your company.

Limit security vulnerabilities

There’s no such thing as a truly impenetrable digital information system—they all have certain vulnerabilities that can be exploited over time. However, the pursuit of security isn’t about perfection, it’s about taking every possible precaution to limit those vulnerabilities.

And since messaging is such a ubiquitous function of our personal and professional lives, increasing vigilance there by using secure messaging apps is a great way to limit your overall exposure to cyber threats.

Safety issues for consumers

Your schedule, your personal location, and the location of your family members are examples of information that is commonly found in SMS messages (or DMs on other mobile apps). A private chat messaging app limits how much of this information can be accessed.

Reputation management for businesses

Internal communications for businesses should be just that—internal. When bad actors have access to internal communications, they can potentially use those in-house conversations to try and embarrass the organization that they were stolen from.

Keep conversations private

First and foremost, secure messaging apps are designed to keep conversations private. Whether it’s a message containing the proprietary details of a multi-million dollar deal or some gossip that’s not intended to be public, sometimes you just need some privacy around your conversations.

Reap the benefits of end-to-end encryption (E2EE)

Messages are encrypted on the sender's device and can only be decrypted by the recipient's device. Even the service provider cannot access the content of your messages. We’ll cover E2EE in depth in a later section of this post.

Protection against security breaches

Secure messaging apps often have stronger security protocols to protect against security breaches. In an era where data breaches are increasingly common, using a secure app reduces the risk of your sensitive information being exposed.

Privacy from surveillance

Strong encryption hinders the ability of governments and other entities to conduct surveillance on your communications. It ensures your freedom of speech and protection against unwarranted intrusion by state actors or other organizations.

Safety in sensitive professions

For journalists, activists, lawyers, and others who handle sensitive information, secure messaging is crucial. It protects the confidentiality of sources, clients, and sensitive information that could be compromised.

Avoidance of commercial data mining

Many non-secure messaging apps collect data for advertising and other commercial purposes. Secure messaging apps typically collect less data (or none at all), reducing your digital footprint and exposure to targeted advertising and marketing tactics.

Security features beyond encryption

These features include self-destructing messages, disappearing messages, secret chats, screen capture blocking, and secure file sharing. These features offer additional layers of privacy and security, especially useful for sharing sensitive personal or business information.

Protection against identity theft

Secure messaging apps often have robust verification processes to ensure that you are communicating with the person you think you are. This reduces the risk of identity theft and scams, which are common on less secure platforms.

Global reach without security compromise

Secure messaging apps allow you to communicate securely with people anywhere in the world. In a globalized world, the ability to communicate across borders without compromising security is crucial for both personal and business communications.

"Using a security and privacy oriented messaging app is critical for the safety of consumers and businesses," said Yashvier Kosaraju, Head of Information Security at Sendbird. "With the rise of instant messaging as a ubiquitous way of communication at work and in personal life, it's critical for businesses to be aware of the intricacies of the messaging platforms they use, as well as messaging features and encryption systems that other messaging apps offer. A secure messaging platform on which to build chat is non-negotiable."

Ebook Engage Mobile content offer background

Elevate in-app engagement eBook

Understanding encrypted messaging apps: The importance of end-to-end encryption

What is end-to-end encryption (E2EE)?

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of communication that prevents third parties from accessing data during transfer from one system to another. In E2EE, the data is encrypted on the sender's device, and only the intended recipients are able to decrypt and read it. Nobody, nor any system in between, can read it or tamper with it in any way.

The best secure messaging apps are end to end encrypted. It is critical that you ensure that a private messaging app follows this when selecting which messaging platform to use.

How does E2EE work?

E2EE works by turning data (in this example, text messages) into a secret code during transmission that can only be decoded by the intended recipient, thus maintaining the privacy of the message. Here is a quick breakdown of how it works in a step-by-step process:

  1. The sender’s message is encrypted: Using an encryption key, the E2EE system encrypts the message on their device.

  2. Transmission: The encrypted message then moves through the internet in its encrypted form to the intended recipient.

  3. The recipient’s device decrypts the message: The recipient’s device uses a decryption key to convert the encrypted data back into its original message.

The key aspect to making encryption and decryption accessible to consumers is the exchange of encryption keys. Generally, two keys are used: a public key, which is shared openly, and a private key, which is kept secret. The public key encrypts the message, and only the corresponding private key on the other side can decrypt it.

In this manner, E2EE systems can be used seamlessly by non-technical people—no need to manually decode anything.

How is E2EE used?

Let’s look at an example of E2EE in action. When it comes to dealing with money, security is paramount—this is why virtually every fintech app uses E2EE. Every time you log in to make a transaction with your bank’s mobile app, you’re using it.

The process looks like this:

  1. Account access: As you type in your username and password into the app, those details are encrypted using the bank’s public key before being sent to the bank’s servers.

  2. Processing a transaction: When transferring money, the account and routing numbers are also encrypted using the same process.

  3. Sending data: The data being transmitted is encoded, so even if it were to be intercepted, it’s completely secure.

  4. Decryption on your bank’s server: Once the data arrives at the bank’s servers, it is decrypted using a private key.

  5. Confirmation message: After the transaction is completed, the bank will send a confirmation message to the user, and this is also encrypted in the same manner.

  6. Data storage: Both the bank and the user’s device store a record of the transaction, which is also encrypted.

In this way, sensitive financial details like logins and account numbers are kept private from anyone trying to gain illegitimate access either during transit or while being stored.

What does E2EE protect against?

Essentially, E2EE is designed to protect all types of data in transit. In the real world, the protection offers tons of utility in different scenarios.

  • Data interception: If somebody grabs a data transmission, there’s no value to them as the message is encrypted.

  • Data breaches: If data is lost, stolen, or misplaced, it won't be useful, again, due to the fact it’s encrypted.

  • Unauthorized access: If a device is lost or stolen, the encrypted data on it can’t be used by the person who finds the device.

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks: In these attacks, a bad actor inserts himself into the middle of a transmission; intercepting and altering the message that’s sent. If the message is sent with E2EE, it cannot be tampered with.

  • Service provider access: With E2EE, even the service provider (such as Gmail) cannot decode the encrypted messages from a user’s account.

  • Compliance risk: Many industries have particular security standards around data transmission, and E2EE helps you avoid falling out of compliance with them.

  • Surveillance: If your communications are being surveilled, E2EE encryption ensures that your messages are unable to be read by those who are eavesdropping.

Now that you have a solid understanding of one of the most important features of a secure messaging app—end-to-end encryption—let’s take a look at some other key features to look out for.

13 features to look for in a secure messaging app

Looking for a secure messaging app? Make sure to investigate their feature list—here are some to look for.

1. Screen security

One of the first lines of defense for a secure messaging app is the screen itself and how it displays messages. Here are a few ways apps can protect the data they display on screen:

  • Prevents or notifies users of screenshots or screen recordings

  • Doesn’t display message content in notifications

  • Secondary security for private areas of the app

2. Independent security audits

A security audit conducted by a third-party expert is a great way to find blind spots, identify vulnerabilities, and shore up any weaknesses. Auditors will check technical infrastructure, conduct penetration tests, assess compliance with regulations like HIPAA and PCI, and more. Depending on how your app is used, an outside security audit may be required.

3. User anonymity

The ability to use the app without providing personal information like your phone number. This feature is crucial for protecting your identity, especially in situations where anonymity is essential such as whistleblowing, freedom from data profiling, and security against surveillance. User anonymity in secure messaging apps is a cornerstone for ensuring privacy, security, and freedom of expression in the digital age.

4. Self-destructing ephemeral messages

Self-destructing messages are ones that persist in the app but are not saved in a database. These are found in many secure messaging apps like Sendbird: Messages in an ephemeral open channel are not saved in Sendbird's database. This means that old messages pushed out by new ones can't be retrieved as they are one-time data. The app should undergo regular, independent security audits.

5. End-to-end encryption

An absolute must-have for any secure messaging app. See the section above for more details on E2EE.

6. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication, or at the very least the option to turn it on, is a necessary feature for secure messaging apps. Because MFA requires two or more verification factors to gain access to an account, even if a device is lost or the password is compromised, the unauthorized party still won’t likely be able to access the

7. Rich media or voice and video calls

There is a case for rich media in both business and personal applications. In business, the ability to send images and videos may be a necessity for everyday operations. For personal use, people might enjoy the experience of being able to send gifs, stickers, voice messages, and other rich media as part of their natural conversation, similar to a social media channel. Either way, make sure the secure messaging app you choose supports rich media.

8. Security certificates and regulatory compliance

In business, it’s common that all technology systems need to meet certain compliance standards. If you’re shopping for a secure messaging app for work, make sure that the product you’re evaluating has the proper security certificates.

Here’s a sample of what Sendbird can offer:

9. Zero-knowledge architecture

The app should ideally have a zero-knowledge architecture, meaning the service provider knows nothing about your data and contact lists.

10. Cost

Many messaging apps that could qualify as secure, such as WhatsApp, are free. Others with more advanced functionality and utility, particularly for business, may have costs associated with them. You’ll want to understand not only the cost structure of paid messaging apps, but which features and types of support are available and each pricing tier.

Check out Sendbird’s pricing page for an example.

11. Customer satisfaction

Outside of the technical aspects of the app, you’ll also want to check out the satisfaction level of their user base. Go through the case studies and testimonials on their site, but don’t be afraid to visit their profiles on review sites like G2 and Capterra.

12. Data retention and storage

Opt for apps that store minimal metadata and have clear data retention policies. The less data the app retains, the less can be exposed in the event of a breach.

13. Cross-platform compatibility

Ensure the app is compatible across different platforms (iPhone, Android, Linux, etc.) while maintaining the same level of security. This allows for secure communication across various mobile devices without compromising on security features.

Top 11 secure messaging apps for businesses

Secure messaging app

Without further ado, let’s dive into our top picks for secure messaging apps in a business setting. These apps were chosen based on a subjective evaluation of the criteria listed in the tables below.

Top B2B secure messaging apps
Top B2B secure messaging apps
Top B2B secure messaging apps
Top B2B secure messaging apps

Let’s zoom in with some explanation on a few of the top choices:

Threema for Work

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, which helps protect it from third-party interception.


  • Encryption

  • 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.

  • Threema is only available to users who have the app, making it impossible to message people who aren't on the app. Adoption of Threema is low in comparison to apps like WhatsApp.

  • Vulnerable to advanced attackers.

  • Does not support two factor authentication.


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.


Wire considers itself a secure collaboration platform, mostly used for work purposes. Wire increases 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 offers limited support for its users.

  • 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.

Top 12 secure messaging apps for consumers

Next, let’s look at our favorite apps for keeping consumer conversations secure. Again, the table below contains our ranking criteria so you can see transparently how we’ve evaluated the various messaging apps.

Top B2C secure messaging apps
Top B2C secure messaging apps
Top B2C secure messaging apps
Top B2C secure messaging apps

Now let's deep dive into the best encrypted 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 of 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 an eye 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.


  • 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 the 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 which 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” allows 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.


  • 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.

  • System errors and unorganized notifications are notable in its online reviews.

  • 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.


  • 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.


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.


  • Encryption

  • Two-step verification and easy sign-on with QR code

  • 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.


  • 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.


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


  • Limited features: Dust doesn't support video calls, voice messages, or large file uploads.

Building your own encrypted messaging app: You can build the best secure messaging app yourself!

While it may be more convenient and most cost-effective to integrate a chat app such as the ones listed above, there are certain times when you might want to build your own secure messaging app. The benefits of building your app messaging app include:

  • Customization and branding

  • Improved customer support via integration

  • Increased sales and conversions

  • Better insights into customer behavior

  • Enhanced UX

  • More monetization opportunities

Before diving into your development cycle, however, there are some key considerations and steps in creating a secure messaging app. We’ve written extensively about how to build a chat app previously on our blog, which is a great resource if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions.

As an overview, he is the basic view of the chat app development process:

  1. Install dependencies: Start by setting up the development environment, which involves creating a project folder and installing dependencies like language support, development frameworks, and library packages.

  2. Frontend development: Next you’ll build a chat app UI. It’s important to fully consider how your users will interact with the chat app and the features that you would like to provide before the design process.

  3. Backend development: In its simplest version, your backend development will likely involve building an API server with endpoints to support requests from your frontend.

  4. Chat app deployment and launch: Launch your chat application by deploying the backend on a cloud server (like AWS, Linode, or Render), starting the application, and making it web-accessible. The frontend deployment varies by platform, requiring submission to the Apple App Store for iOS, Google Play Store for Android, and appropriate stores and cloud servers for cross-platform apps.

  5. Iterate based on user feedback: Establish a feedback mechanism for your user base, such as a web form, email, discussion board, or Discord channel to gather input. Bonus points for the ability to distinguish bug fixes and feature requests, which sets the stage for a continuous cycle of build, deployment, and prioritization.

Of course, you can shortcut a few of these steps by using an API-based chat messaging service like Sendbird. This is exactly what Accolade did in order to launch sophisticated and secure messaging services to its members in the highly regulated field of healthcare.

Accolade, a personalized healthcare app that delivers health services to more than 10 million members, chose Sendbird to build out its messaging and chat capabilities. Accolade chose Sendbird’s technology to power its in-app messaging due to our ability to deliver high-performance and reliability alongside rock-solid security and HIPAA compliance.

In just a 4-week implementation timeline, Accolade was able to increase its daily sent message count per user by 215% and increase the total number of people messaging by 2.6x.

You can read the full Accolade case study here.

Start building your secure messaging app today

We hope you found this guide to selecting a secure messaging app useful in your decision making, but we also hope that knowing the why behind each feature is empowering.

We’ve discussed the importance of secure messaging, its definition, and its history. We’ve done a deep dive into end-to-end encryption and explained how it functions in everyday digital transactions. We’ve looked closely at each individual feature you should be looking for in a secure messaging solution and why. We’ve also gone through the legal and compliance aspects of secure messaging and how they might affect a company or individual.

And now, we’d like to leave you with this last piece of information:

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.

Ebook Grow background mobile

Take customer relationships to the next level.

Ready for the next level?