Many people are looking for encrypted messaging apps to securely communicate with their coworkers, friends, and family. While there are other ways to protect your data, end-to-end encryption has become a standard security feature in both consumer and business messaging apps.
For businesses, encrypted chat is where secure collaboration begins. For many organizations, secure business chat software is detrimental to doing business. Customers expect their data to be safe with organizations they choose to work with, and compromising data security could mean irreparable damages to business reputation.
That's why encrypted messaging apps are no longer a rarity - not even for consumer-oriented communication. Privacy-conscious businesses go a few steps beyond encryption to ensure secure communication with clients or between their employees.
🗝️ Read on to find out what are the best encrypted messaging apps today, how encryption works, and how else you can ensure highest security standards while texting.
What are encrypted messaging apps?
As their name says, encrypted messaging apps are solutions that support the transmission of encrypted data. Encryption ensures that the only parties that can access the message content are the ones that hold the decryption keys – usually the sender and the receiver.
Therefore, encrypted messaging apps are enforcing one of the most popular and high-standard data protection protocols. Although many people know about encryption through their private messaging providers, it is also one of the most frequently used data protection protocols in business messaging apps.
Moreover, the need for secure collaboration and encrypted messaging apps only increased with the abrupt adoption of hybrid work policies. As businesses moved toward remote work models, they also noticed rising cyber attacks and increased risk of cybersecurity breaches.
More than 50% of IT leaders say that mitigating cybersecurity risks is their priority when it comes to digital transformation. One of the ways to mitigate those risks is to adopt and use encrypted chat apps. Nowadays, such secure business chat software is a norm in digital workplaces around the world.
Best encrypted messaging apps
Encrypted messaging apps became more popular when WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption. From then on, we’ve seen multiple apps entering the secure instant messaging market. Without a doubt, WhatsApp remains the most popular consumer messaging app. However, due to sharing data with Facebook, WhatsApp is not considered 100% private and secure.
Here are the best encrypted messaging apps for personal use that adhere to strict data protection standards:
Signal is probably the most famous messaging app for those that want their privacy kept private. With internationally renowned security technologists like Edward Snowden as its ambassadors, Signal keeps its reputation as one of the best encrypted messaging apps out there.
Signal offers a simple UI and puts emphasis on what it's designed for: security. Messages as well as audio and video calls are end-to-end encrypted. It offers cool features such as self-destructing messages, but requires a phone number to set up.
It's available for both Android and iOS users. If you're ultimate goal is encrypted messaging with ease of use, Signal is a great choice.
This Swiss-made encrypted chat app is so secure it doesn’t even require you to enter your email address or phone number to use it, allowing you complete anonymity. It uses NaCI cryptography for encrption. You can connect with other users by presenting QR codes to other users. Threema also permanently deletes messages after it is delivered, so there can be no misuse of the data and metadata.
Since it's Europe-based, Threema is GDPR-compliant. It's also open-sourced and contains no ads. It is funded by app users, though: individual users pay $3.99/month for Threema, with more options available to companies. Threema is highly popular in the German-speaking market, so it might be difficult to find other users to communicate with on the app outside this area.
Telegram is an encrypted real-time chat app popular in countries such as Brazil, Russia, and Malaysia. It is popular for offering bug bounty – a $300,000 prize for anybody that detects vulnerabilities in their code. Also, part of Telegram’s business model is refusal to sell customer data, so it is known as one of the safest messaging apps.
Telegram employs their custom-made MTProto encryption, which has garnered some controversy in the past. Also, encryption is not automatically enabled on Telegram, so users have to set it up on their own if they want their messages encrypted.
Telegram has grown into more than a messaging app, though. It allows large chat groups (up to 200,000 users!), and resembles a social network.
Another Swiss-made encrypted messaging app, Wire is completely GDPR compliant and requires only email to download.
Wire's Proteus encryption protocol is based on Signal's, which is renowned for its security. Lately, Wire has turned to its business-oriented audience and develops the app to serve security-minded organizations and their teams. However, the app is still available for consumer use for free.
Wire’s officials also say they are not interested in selling data to third parties, and its code is open-sourced.
Dust is not as popular as other encrypted messaging apps mentioned here, but it is just as secure. It uses AES-128 and RSA-2048 encryption methods to protect messages and other data exchanged.
Dust also includes other interesting security features, such as self-destructing messages and stealth search, and lets you know if a screenshot of your message has been made.
It works both on Android and iOS, and is free.
Best encrypted chat apps for business in 2023
As mentioned above, encrypted messaging is the minimum that security-conscious businesses need to consider when purchasing a new messaging solution. Extremely secure collaboration tools also incorporate features such as multi-factor authentication and on-premise deployment.
Here are our top five secure instant messaging apps for businesses in 2023.
🗝️ Before you start, also check out our ultimate list of most secure messaging apps to compare their functionalities.
Besides being end-to-end encrypted, Rocket.Chat offers other numerous security features. First of all, Rocket.Chat is an open-sourced messaging platform with more than 30k GitHub community members that actively contribute to its safety, and it is considered one of the best Slack open source alternatives on the market.
Moreover, Rocket.Chat offers on-premise hosting, which means that companies can fully own their data and minimize risk of security breaches. This feature goes beyond messaging encryption: it ensures that exchanged data doesn't leave the local server. It's an important security staple for organizations in highly regulated industries such as Government, Defense, Healthcare, and others.
As one of the most secure encrypted messaging apps for businesses, Rocket.Chat is ISO 27001 certified and can be customized to comply with HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and other data privacy regulations.
2. Troop Messenger
Troop Messenger is a well-known encrypted messaging app meant for businesses. It features instant messaging, audio and video calling, screen sharing, and more. Its integrations allow employees to seamlessly collaborate with one another. Moreover, the possibility to host on-premises allow Troop Messenger’s customers to have full data sovereignty. It's often mentioned as a security-oriented Slack competitor.
Besides being an encrypted messaging app, Element is also open-sourced. Element’s security portfolio is strengthened by Matrix protocol, allowing a vibrant developer ecosystem that allows advanced collaboration. Element’s strong points – security and privacy – are its customers’ priority, so on-prem hosting and full data sovereignty are also a part of their offer.
NetSfere is an enterprise-grade communication solution that focuses on three things – security, encryption, and enterprise control. Their industry standard 256-bit encryption protects data and maintains the privacy of employee communications.
This app is more than an encrypted chat - it's a well-rounded secure business software that also incorporates video conferencing.
TeleMessage is a secure business chat software that ensures all the information that employees exchange is protected. Besides encryption, TeleMessage supports self-destruction of messages and remote data locking and wiping. It's also used for mass messaging, and enables capture, archiving and monitoring of SMS, MMS, voice calls, WhatsApp, and WeChat messages.
How encrypted messaging apps work?
As their name says, encrypted messaging apps use the process of encoding information to prevent anybody viewing the content of them. As data privacy is becoming an increasingly important topic, end-to-end encryption became known as a standard data protection protocol.
However, end-to-end encryption does not equal data privacy and protection. Yes, it does prevent the message from being read if intercepted, but encrypted messaging apps ensure that messages are encrypted only in transit.
What does that mean? This means that the provider of the service can still access the data and read the data – unless they say they don’t. Some encrypted messaging apps explicitly say they don’t store data nor metadata on their servers, or sell them to third parties.
🗝️ Check out how some messaging apps could be exposing conversations.
Moreover, encrypted messaging apps cannot guarantee data protection if endpoints are compromised. This is why there are many new technologies and initiatives aimed at increasing endpoint security.
In any case, encrypted messaging apps are becoming the standard when it comes to safe communication. Communication industry is the leader when it comes to using encryption, but 60% of employees say their organizations transfer confidential data to the cloud whether or not it is encrypted.
However, messaging apps meant for businesses need additional safety measures and protocols to ensure security of their – and their customers’ – data.
What security features to look for in a messaging app (besides encryption)?
End-to-end encryption is an important security feature of messaging apps, but it’s surely not the only one. If they’re privacy-conscious or operate in highly-regulated industries - like government & defense, healthcare, or education - businesses will want to fortify the security of their communications with these features:
1. Security certificates
Certificates like ISO 27001 are internationally recognized standards for information security management systems. Such certificates prove that the encrypted messaging apps are audited on annual basis by independent third-party auditors.
2. Secure push notifications
Push notifications can be tricky and reveal confidential information. To many organizations out there, it’s important to have an ID-only push notifications feature in addition to end-to-end encryption of their messaging apps.
3. Data privacy regulations compliance
Depending on the region or industry, businesses might need to comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA. Encrypted messaging apps partly comply with such regulations merely because of data encryption. However, there are several other customization options that the app admins need to configure to be fully compliant.
4. Access control and device management
Role-based permissions based on Single Sign-On, Multi-Factor Authentication, and other methods are often a required feature for secure messaging apps. Even thought they are encrypted, messaging apps could still be accessed by someone pretending to be someone else. Role-based permissions are crucial for avoiding such security breaches.
5. Open source
Using open source technology is considered to be a great way to enhance overall security. Namely, open source software is upgraded according to its community members’ feedback on a frequent basis - also meaning stronger security.
6. On-premise hosting
Organizations that want maximum communication security deploy encrypted messaging apps on-premise. This ensures complete control over any data that gets exchanged between communicating parties.
For organizations like governmental agencies, on-premise deployment is often a requirement, just as it is for other businesses in highly regulated industries.
Why is encrypted messaging the best choice for security-conscious businesses
Encrypted chat is a prerequisite for secure collaboration. Although encryption does not equal data protection, it is one of the most important features when it comes to messaging security.
These are just some of the reasons to get an encrypted messaging app – for private use or for your business.
1. Unlock the power of team communication and collaboration
With a secure encrypted chat app, business leaders can unlock the power of effective team communication and collaboration. Team collaboration leads to better innovation practices, better company culture, and increased productivity. According to research, collaborative businesses are also more likely to be profitable.
2. Evolving trust with customers
Did you know that in 2019, 52% of Americans opted out of using products or services because of privacy concerns? This speaks volumes about the necessity of encrypted messaging apps. Encryption is the minimum you simply can’t afford to neglect!
When a cybersecurity breach happens, businesses are deemed as less trustworthy. Why should you care? Because data privacy and security is becoming a reason for consumers to purchase a product. According to research, 54% of companies are using encryption to protect their customers’ personal information.
3. Diminishing costs
In industries such as healthcare or financial services, there are laws and regulations that businesses must adhere to when it comes to customers’ data privacy. Not complying with those regulations can be costly – for example, there were $63 million worth of fines issued in the first year of GDPR policy in the EU.
Moreover, cybersecurity breaches that can happen due to insecure communication between employees can also turn out to be costly. This IBM report says that the average cost of a data breach in the US is $3.8 million.
🗝️ All in all, encrypted messaging apps can save businesses a lot of time and money. However, encryption is not the only safety protocol that businesses need to employ. Check out this list of messaging apps’ security features you should look for to ensure data security.
You also might be wondering..
Are encrypted apps safe?
Yes, encrypted messaging apps are highly secure and safe to use. However, encryption alone sometimes isn't enough. Businesses often require additional security measures to keep their data completely safe, like two factor authentication, regular audits, on-premise deployment, and more.
What is the best encrypted messaging app?
It's impossible to choose one, because there are multiple great options on the market. In our list above, you can find the ten best encrypted messaging apps according to tech magazines and user-generated reviews.
Can encrypted messages be decrypted?
Encrypted messages can be decrypted with the decryption key that is unique to that encryption transaction. In fact, that's what happens every time an encrypted message is received!
What are the most secure messaging apps for healthcare?
Certain industries require strict data protection policies. In healthcare, encryption is only one of the measures that businesses must employ to protect their customers' data. Most secure messaging apps for healthcare include Rocket.Chat, Weave, RevenueWell, and more. You can find the full list here.
🗝️ If you're looking for other highly secure tools to communicate with customers, read our piece about safeguarding conversations via secure live chat.
Looking for a secure business chat software?
Here at Rocket.Chat, we are committed to data protection and security. This is why even cybersecurity companies choose Rocket.Chat as their internal messaging solution.
As Rocket.Chat is one of the most secure messaging apps for businesses, we adhere to the strictest messaging security standards. Not only that – we actively upgrade our own practices internally and with the help of our open source community.
Get in touch with our team and check out how you can provide the best collaboration experience to your employees without ever worrying about security.
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