Cybercriminals, government agencies, or even ex-spouses can all snoop on our communications if we're not careful. That's why it's important to use apps that offer end-to-end encryption, which means that only the people involved in a conversation can read it.
This is achieved through a process of mathematical algorithms that scramble and unscramble data as it's sent back and forth. No one in the middle – not even the service provider – can read the messages.
There are a number of apps that offer this type of protection, including Signal, Telegram, and iMessage. Here are 16 of the best.
SlikSafe is a decentralized storage provider that uses end-to-end encryption to protect your data. It offers military grade security, ensuring that even the most determined snoop will be unable to access your files.
In addition, decentralizing your data means that there's no single point of failure. Even if one server is hacked, the rest of your data remains safe and secure.
Pryvate is the most secure messaging app available, using RSA 4096-bit encryption and SHA-256 encryption technology. With Pryvate, your messages are always private – there are no servers involved, so your messages can never be intercepted or hacked.
Pryvate also aims to offer a number of other security features, including TOR browsing and a secure crypto wallet. They also provide remote wipe functionality and auto-delete functionality.
Signal is a free and open source messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for all of your communications. It's one of the most popular options for those who value privacy and security.
Signal also offers features like self-destructing messages and encrypted video calls. And because it's open source, Signal is constantly being audited by security experts to ensure that it remains secure.
Unlike WhatsApp, which can provide government agencies with access to your messages, Signal doesn't have any backdoor access. That means not even a subpoena can get you to give up your messages.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, with over 2 billion users. And it offers end-to-end encryption for all communications.
However, WhatsApp does have one potential weak spot: it has your encryption keys. That means that if Facebook is ordered to hand over data, WhatsApp would be forced to comply.
Still, WhatsApp is a secure option for those who want to communicate privately. Just be aware of the potential risks associated with using a centralized, Facebook-owned service.
Telegram is another popular messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption, as long as you use the “Start Secret Chat” feature. It's also free and open source, like Signal.
However, Telegram doesn't offer encrypted group calls, or as much transparency as Signal. Further, data such as your name, phone number, contact list, and user ID are stored centrally.
So while Telegram is a secure option, it's not as private as some of the other options on this list.
ProtonMail is a secure email service that uses end-to-end encryption to protect your messages. It's one of the few email providers that offers this type of protection.
In addition, ProtonMail offers features like self-destructing messages and encrypted attachments. And because it's based in Switzerland, your data is protected by some of the strictest privacy laws in the world.
LINE is a Japanese messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for all communications. It's available for both iOS and Android, and it's one of the most popular messaging apps in Asia.
In addition to offering secure messaging, LINE also offers features like voice and video calls, as well as a wide range of stickers and emoji.
Dust is a secure messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption to protect your messages. It's available for both iOS and Android, and it's one of the only messaging apps that offers truly secure ephemeral messaging.
One of the first entrants into the end-to-end encrypted messaging space, Wickr has made a name for itself as a secure and private way to communicate.
One stand-out feature of Wickr is that it doesn't have any user limit, meaning you can communicate with as many people as you want without worry. On top of that, the app also doesn't collect IP addresses, ensuring your location remains private.
Wickr is also open-source, meaning its codebase is available for anyone to audit. And speaking of security, the app has been vetted by the NSA.
To make sure your conversations are truly private, Wickr also features screenshot detection and blocks third-party keyboards on iOS. Plus, all files exchanged on Wickr are ensured to be irretrievably deleted so you can rest assured knowing your conversations are secure.
Since 2016, Viber has had end-to-end encryption, and is a user-friendly and secure messenger app. It is a direct rival to Skype on mobile, with similar features such as self-destructing messages. However, one of the cons of Viber is that it doesn't have a no data collection policy, meaning that your data could be at risk if the app were to be hacked.
While not free-to-use like many popular messaging apps, Threema does provide a high degree of security for its users. One key feature is that it doesn't require email or phone numbers to create an account – perfect for those concerned about privacy.
Chats on Threema are end-to-end encrypted, meaning that only the participants in a conversation can see the messages. And if you're extra security conscious, you can even set up a PIN or fingerprint lock to protect your private chats.
The voice call space has fewer end-to-end encrypted options than the messaging space, but Silent Phone is one of the most secure and trusted voice call apps available.
Businesses and governments around the world trust Silent Phone for its true privacy features, simple deployment process, and secure conference calling capabilities. HD call clarity and the ability to send pdf, docx, mov, mp4, png and jpg files make Silent Phone a top voice call app.
The burn functionality protects messaging with auto self-destruct while voice memos offer a modern replacement for traditional, unprotected voicemail. Silent World also allows communication with non-members.
End-to-end encryption isn't just for individuals anymore. More and more businesses are turning to end-to-end encrypted voice call apps like Wire to protect their communications.
With features like team management, crisis collaboration, response planning, and more, Wire is becoming the go-to choice for businesses of all sizes.
Wire is 100% open source and its code is available on GitHub. That means that independent researchers can audit the code to make sure that it does what it says it does. It also meets compliance standards, including ISO, CCPA, GDPR, and SOX.
And because Wire can be deployed on Wire's Cloud, your cloud server, or your own on-premises server, it's easy to get started. Plus, all features can be used across web, mobile, and PC.
Apple's iMessage app is a secure end-to-end encrypted messaging app. However, iCloud backups are enabled by default and aren't E2E encrypted. This means that Apple receives a copy of the key that is used to encrypt that backup.
Simply put, by default, government entities and hackers could potentially access your backups if they were to get their hands on them. In other words, it's important to be aware of the fact that your data is not as private as you may think when using iMessage.
There are ways to keep your backups safe and secure, however. One option is to simply encrypt backups. Another option is to disable iCloud backups altogether.
As with iMessage, every communication you have using FaceTime is end-to-end encrypted. This means that no one but the people involved in a conversation can access or read what's being said. Not even Apple can get into your conversations.
As a result, some countries have even attempted to ban FaceTime as they can't eavesdrop on conversations.
Korea's flagship messaging app KakaoTalk offers end-to-end encryption for its users' communication safety and privacy. However, the feature is not activated by default – users have to manually enable "Secret Chat" in the settings.
While this may seem like an extra step that some users might not bother with, it's actually a great security measure. By making end-to-end encryption an opt-in feature, KakaoTalk ensures that only those who are truly concerned about their privacy are using the most secure form of communication.
So if you're one of the millions of people who use KakaoTalk on a daily basis, make sure to enable Secret Chat to keep your conversations safe from prying eyes.
End-to-end encryption is a critical component of securing your data, but there are other important considerations to take into account when using messaging apps. Here are five tips to protect your messaging app security.
Public WiFi networks are notoriously insecure, so it's best to avoid using them altogether when accessing sensitive data. If you must use public WiFi, be sure to connect to a VPN first to protect your traffic from eavesdroppers.
If you wouldn't want someone listening in on your conversation, don't send it via a messaging app. This includes sensitive personal information like birthdates, addresses, and social security numbers.
Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly common, and criminals are using messaging apps as a way to deliver their attacks. Be suspicious of any links or attachments you receive, even if they appear to come from a trusted contact.
There are many great security apps available that can add an extra layer of protection to your messaging communications. Look for an app that offers end-to-end encryption and other features like self-destructing messages or the ability to set up a secure PIN code for access.
Make sure you're always using the latest version of your messaging app and keep your operating system and other software up to date as well. Security patches are released frequently to fix vulnerabilities, so it's important to stay current.