Secure Messaging Apps
When it comes to messaging apps, it is important to go with a secure app and one that is used by your friends. One of the most popular messaging apps is WhatsApp and it is being used by over 90 percent of people in countries where it is available. Moreover, it is also one of the most used messaging apps across the globe. The other popular messaging app is Facebook Messenger and it is used by around 83 percent of the people in the US.
While Facebook-owned apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are more popular in the US and most countries across the globe, people in China use WeChat as the two Facebook-owned apps are blocked in the country. Another popular messaging app is Telegram and it is used by a vast majority of the population in the Middle East.
The most secure messaging app will be the one that uses end-to-end encryption and doesn’t store your personal data. Almost all messaging apps are prone to scams these days, so there are a few steps you will need to take from your side to make sure you do not become a victim of fraud or scams while using your favorite messaging app.
In this article, we have listed the top five encrypted messaging apps and also listed a few tips to make sure you remain secure online.
Owned by Facebook, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps used by many across the globe. This app has auto-enabled end-to-end encryption for all its users. It uses an industry-standard Signal encryption protocol designed by Open Whisper Systems. It makes sure no one, including the app itself, reads messages you send or receive.
This app is user-friendly and has billions of users. Location sharing, gifs, and file sharing are some of this app’s interesting features. This app works on all mobile phones and it also offers desktop support.
The only drawback is that it is owned by Facebook, which is well-known for its questionable privacy practices and had once experienced a data breach. In 2019, hackers exploited a vulnerability and injected spyware through audio calls, through which they gained access to the victim’s contact details, emails, messages, and more. However, WhatsApp patched the vulnerability.
Yet another popular messaging app, Facebook Messenger, is used by billions across the globe. You can use Facebook Messenger to chat with your friends even after you deactivate your Facebook account. Unlike WhatsApp, which encrypts its users’ conversations by default, encryption isn’t default with this app. Many do not even know that Facebook Messenger offers end-to-end encryption. It also does not encrypt its users’ past conversations.
This app tracks its users’ online behavior and gathers information on who its users chat with and how often they use this messaging app. Likewise, this app experienced data breaches multiple times, which is one reason why it is not considered a completely secure messaging app.
iMessage is a popular messaging app among iOS users. Apple products have a better reputation when it comes to cybersecurity and iMessage is a secure alternative to text messages for iPhone users. This app offers end-to-end encryption and it is turned on by default.
Though it turns on encryption by default, this app fails to encrypt other data like its users’ mobile numbers, data stored in the cloud, and metadata. So, when a hacker gains access to a user’s cloud, they can easily steal data from the user’s device, as well. Likewise, it also collects some information about its users based on their behavior and it does have vulnerabilities.
Viber is one of the most popular messaging apps and is also a competitor to WhatsApp. This messaging app offers end-to-end encryption and offers a feature called self-destructing messages.
This app which is now a chat app, using which one can send voice and text messages, videos, and photos to other users and groups, was initially designed to make calls over the web. This app encrypts all chats and is compatible with mobile phones and desktop computers, as well.
However, the downside of this app is that it collects its users’ data as well as their contacts, like their contact numbers and names. This includes the details of the user’s entire contact list, including those who do not use Viber. It is also said to track its users’ social media activities. These are two reasons why it is pretty risky to use this messaging app.
Telegram is another popular messaging app that comes with an easy-to-use interface. This app offers features like disappearing messages and more. Millions across the globe use this app to communicate with their friends.
However, encryption is not default and its servers are not open source though its app is. Many are unaware of the fact that their chats are not encrypted by default. Likewise, its encryption protocol initially had vulnerabilities, which the app later patched. Its encryption protocol was developed by a team that wasn’t much experienced in cryptography.
Why Do You Need a Secure Messaging App?
It is crucial to use an encrypted messaging app as the encryption and security the app offers will secure your communication and make sure no third party can intercept it. Cybercriminals like hackers can easily read your messages if there is no encryption. On the other hand, when there is end-to-end encryption, hackers cannot easily intercept your communication as only the sender of the message and the receiver will have the decryption key. In order to keep your conversations private and secure, it is mandatory to use a secure messaging app.
Tips to Secure Your Messaging App
While most messaging apps offer end-to-end encryption, they are not completely secure and those apps seem to have vulnerabilities. Here are a few tips to secure your messaging app.
- Make sure you do not share sensitive information like your banking details over chat. The same applies to passwords and other personal data. Likewise, do not share such details over chat with strangers.
- Never click on links you receive from unknown numbers. If you receive a suspicious-looking URL from a stranger, remember it could most likely be from a scammer who is trying to send you to a phishing site.
- You will need to be careful when you connect to a public WiFi network that is not secure. Hackers can easily track your online activities and also read your messages when you connect to one such network. The best way to secure your connection while you use a public WiFi network is by using a trustworthy VPN.
- Subscribe to a trustworthy VPN service like NordVPN or Surfshark VPN. A VPN will encrypt your entire traffic and make sure no one knows what you do online. You can also receive instant protection while you chat using your messaging app.
Why is it a Good Idea to always Use a VPN
When you use a reliable VPN, it will encrypt your internet traffic and make sure you are anonymous online. Though messaging apps offer end-to-end encryption, there can still be vulnerabilities hackers can exploit and get their hands on your sensitive data.
No matter which messaging app you use, we recommend using a VPN, as it will immediately hide your IP address and your internet traffic. It will prevent hackers and other third parties from snooping into your traffic. While there are hundreds of VPN services, including the free ones, it is good to go for a paid VPN service like NordVPN, which comes with solid security features like ad blocker, malware blocker, and more.
The Final Word
While most of the messaging apps listed above offer end-to-end encryption, they may not be as secure as you think. These apps could have hidden vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit at any time. In such cases, your personal details can easily land in the hands of attackers who can misuse them in multiple ways. This is why we recommend using a trustworthy VPN to secure your communications and stay anonymous online.