Top secure messaging apps in 2024

Sara Ana Cemazar
July 18, 2023
min read

Why is secure messaging so important? In times marked by technological advancements and an ever-increasing dependence on digital communication, securing private information and conversations has emerged as a crucial concern. According to research, 60% of people prefer messaging over phone calls or emails. 

However, the pervasive cyber threats and the necessity to protect private data have caused secure messaging apps to become more popular. These platforms use modern encryption techniques and sophisticated security measures to guarantee the privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of digital interactions.

As the number of mobile phone users using messaging apps to communicate grows to 3.51 billion users by 2025, the need for secure messaging applications is anticipated to increase dramatically. 

How secure are the most popular messaging apps in the world?

Secure messaging apps use encryption to protect the privacy of communications and prevent unauthorized persons from accessing calls and chats. Most secure messaging apps employ end-to-end encryption; this ensures that only the message sender and recipient see the conversations.

WhatsApp is popular in countries all over the world due to its ease of use, abundant features, and end-to-end encryption. In China, the predominant chat provider is WeChat, a combination of chat, social media, and mobile payments. 

Facebook Messenger is still widely used in the US, and several parts of Europe, and it is simple to combine with Facebook's social network. With its emphasis on security and privacy, Telegram attracts users worried about data security and grows in popularity worldwide. 

Each app has unique features and popularity, catering to diverse user preferences worldwide. However, some of these apps have experienced major security breaches, compromising users’ privacy. 

  • For example, WhatsApp experienced a significant security breach in May 2019 when hackers used a flaw in the application to install spyware on customers' phones. Although Whatsapp has end-to-end encryption, hackers still managed to install malware and access users’ personal data, such as calls and texts. This raised concerns about the security and privacy features/policies of the app.
  • Despite its popularity, WhatsApp is not suited to be used as an employee communication tool. The lack of automatic HIPAA compliance also means that WhatsApp should be used carefully in healthcare communications.
  • WeChat has been under fire for its privacy policies since it complies with data demands and restrictions from the Chinese government, possibly compromising user privacy.
  • Although there haven't been any significant security breaches for Facebook Messenger, its parent company, Facebook, has faced several data privacy scandals over the years, leading to concerns about user data protection and overall security.

What makes messaging secure?

Messaging can be considered secure when multiple essential components are in place that safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of the communication. 

End-to-end encryption

It is one of the essential features of secure communication. E2E encryption ensures that the message is encoded on the transmitting device and decoded by the device of the intended recipient. Even the service provider is unable to view the message content.

Encrypted messaging apps

The best method for preventing unwanted access to conversations/chats is to utilize messaging apps with robust encryption protocols (with end-to-end encryption turned on).

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

A security procedure for managing identities and access that needs two or more forms of identification before granting access to information or resources (for instance, a one-time code sent to their phone) 

Secure media sharing

Ensuring that media files exchanged within the messaging app (pictures, videos, and documents) are encrypted and protected from monitoring or unwanted access.

Secure video and voice calls

For phone and video chats, secure messaging applications provide end-to-end encryption, making it difficult for others to overhear chats.

Disappearing messages and self-destructing messages

These features enable messages to delete after a specific period of time automatically. This minimizes the possibility of sensitive information being exposed in case the device is lost or hacked.

Independent Security Audits

To evaluate their security procedures and find any possible weaknesses, reputable messaging apps often carry out security audits through independent third-party experts.

Responsible data collection

Secure messaging services adhere to stringent privacy policies and only collect the user data required for the service to operate. 

Open-source code

Some messaging applications are open-sourced, making their source code available to everyone. This enables external security experts to examine and verify the app's security features and identify any possible vulnerabilities. It also brings transparency to see how data is being processed in the backend.

Strong privacy policy

An extensive privacy statement that explains how the app will handle user data, who will get access to it, and how long it will be kept is required. 

The most secure private messaging apps

Let’s learn what are the most secure messaging apps on the market today and how they differ.

1. Signal

secure messaging

Signal is a free and open-source private messaging app that emphasizes security, privacy, and end-to-end encryption. It was created by the nonprofit Signal Foundation and is available for desktop platforms, iOS, and Android devices. 

Users of Signal can securely exchange media files, send text and voice messages, and engage in audio and video chats. For further privacy, it also supports disappearing messages. Moreover, users’ data is stored locally on their device — not on remote servers.

How secure is Signal?

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Forward secrecy
  • Open source
  • Secure verification
  • No data storage
  • Self-destructing messages

Expert opinions on Signal's security features are generally positive. Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps available with advocates such as Edward Snowden.

Who is Signal not for?

While security is Signal's first priority, some users who prioritize convenience may not appreciate some of the features seen in other widely used messaging services. 

Those looking for an extensive user base may find Signal's popularity not on the same level as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Certain functionalities on other platforms but not in Signal may not appeal to business-oriented customers. 

Additionally, using Signal could be difficult in countries with governmental restrictions or barriers.

2. Threema

secure messaging

Threema is a paid cross-platform encrypted instant messaging app that is safe and secure for smartphones and other mobile devices. 

By ensuring that phone conversations, file transfers, and message exchanges are encrypted and only available to the intended recipient, it emphasizes user privacy and data protection.

 How secure is Threema?

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Forward secrecy
  • No data collection
  • Open source
  • Secure VoIP calls
  • Self-destructing messages

Who is Threema not for?

As Threema emphasizes security over popularity, it may not be suitable for people who want a huge user base for social communication. 

Additionally, Threema may not be as interesting to users who prefer messaging applications that are totally free as it needs a single purchase. 

Also, users who depend on the app's integrations with other systems or services can find its limited third-party support constraining.

3. Wire

secure messaging

Wire is an end-to-end encrypted communications and collaboration tool made for both individuals and businesses. It offers texting, video conferencing, voice calling, file sharing, and collaboration capabilities.

Additionally, Wire has a wide range of enterprise-level features, including the option to run Wire on a firm's own data centers and secure corporate communication with built-in video conferencing facilities. 

The availability of local decryption key storage, as opposed to keeping keys in online, distant servers, is another feature guaranteed to satisfy power users.

How secure is Wire?

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Forward secrecy
  • Independent security audits
  • No data mining
  • Open source
  • Self-hosted option
  • Verified endpoints

Who is Wire not for?

Given that it has free and premium options, Wire may not be the best option for those looking for a free messaging service. Wire may be too feature-rich for users who prefer a messaging app with simple UI. 

Additionally, people or organizations relying significantly on direct phone number integration or substantial third-party connections would need to consider alternate choices.

Users who need a messaging platform with an extensive existing user base or specific government or enterprise certifications must evaluate their requirements before choosing Wire.

4. Silence

secure messaging

The Silence application offers users an instant messaging tool that is characterized by helping them to send SMS and MMS with total privacy and security. 

It emphasizes safe, end-to-end encrypted communication. Originally developed as "TextSecure" and intended for encrypted texting, it eventually changed its name to "Silence" and included voice and video calling capabilities. 

How secure is Silence?

  • Disappearing messages
  • End-to-end encryption
  • No data collection
  • Open source
  • Secure voice calls

Who is Silence not for?

Given that it only focuses on text messaging, Silence might not be a good choice for those looking for a full-featured instant messaging platform with options like video calling or group messaging. In addition, people who value a huge social-media user base may prefer other well-known messaging apps.

Due to Silence's discontinuation and potential for lower ongoing updates and enhancements, users who rely significantly on regular app updates or official support may also prefer utilizing the more actively developed Signal app.

5. Session

secure messaging

Session is a private and secure messaging app intended to prioritize user privacy. By using a decentralized peer-to-peer network and end-to-end encryption, it ensures that messages, phone calls, and data sent between users remain private and are inaccessible to any central authority or third party.

Unlike conventional messaging applications, Session offers better privacy because registration doesn't need phone numbers or email addresses. Accessible on multiple devices, the platform aims to provide users concerned about online privacy with a secure and censorship-resistant communication medium.

How secure is Session?

  • Decentralized network
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Anonymous registration
  • Perfect forward secrecy
  • Open source
  • No metadata collection
  • No third-party involvement

Who is Session not for?

Users looking for a secure messaging app with a sizable user base may find that Session is not their best option because its user base may be less than that of popular platforms. 

People who prefer video calling or robust collaborative tools might find other secure messaging apps more suitable. The anonymous registration approach used by Session may not be suitable for users who prefer standard phone number- or email-based registration. 

Those needing integration with particular third-party services may need to consider alternative messaging apps that provide such functionalities.

6. Dust

secure messaging

Dust is a private and secure messaging service that emphasizes privacy and anonymity. It enables users to transmit text messages, images, and videos, with a crucial feature being that messages immediately disappear after being read. 

Dust's self-destructing communications are designed to leave no trace on the recipient's device, boosting privacy.

How secure is Dust?

  • End-to-end encryption
  • No message saving
  • No personal information required
  • Screenshot alerts
  • Self-destructing messages

Who is Dust not for?

Due to its emphasis on simplicity and self-destructing communications, Dust may not be appropriate for consumers looking for messaging software with plenty of features. 

Additionally, people who prefer large numbers of users or phone number-based registration for social communication could favor other messaging services. 

Also, users looking for substantial third-party integrations for collaboration may need to consider other alternatives. 

7. Element

secure messaging

Element is an application for secure messaging and team collaboration, offering end-to-end encryption for communication. Element, formerly known as, is built on the Matrix protocol, an open-source technology that enables decentralized and federated communication between several servers. 

It supports text messaging, voice and video calling, file sharing, and integration with other collaboration tools. Element is a popular choice for people, communities, and organizations looking for a secure messaging solution since it emphasizes user privacy and security.

Getting started is easy; you can either initiate your own conversation or log into one of the numerous available online chat rooms.

How secure is Element? 

  • Decentralized and federated
  • End-to-end encryption
  • No data mining
  • Open source
  • Self-hosted option
  • Verification and cross-signing

Who is Element not for?

Users looking for a straightforward chat tool or those who favor centralized systems might find Element unsuitable. However, for non-technical consumers, its open-source and self-hosting options may pose difficulties.

Large enterprises, which are bound by strict data management regulations, may express concerns regarding Element’s federated and decentralized structure. Users could prefer other platforms with extremely specialized third-party integration requirements. 

8. ChatSecure

secure messaging

ChatSecure is a messaging app that emphasizes secure and private communication. It offers end-to-end encryption for file transfers and text messaging, guaranteeing that only the intended receivers may view the content. 

ChatSecure supports a number of communication protocols, including XMPP (Jabber), and is compatible with other applications and services that use XMPP.

The open-source nature of the app allows security experts to review and evaluate its source code, enhancing transparency and confidence in its security measures.

How secure is ChatSecure?

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Multiple messaging protocols
  • No centralized server
  • Open source
  • Security audits

Who is ChatSecure not for?

Users looking for comprehensive functionality beyond encrypted texting or those who prefer phone number-based registration might find ChatSecure too simple. 

Its open-source nature and support for several message protocols may provide difficulties for non-technical users. Large enterprises may express caution regarding Telegram's decentralized data strategy. 

9. Telegram

secure messaging

Telegram is widely recognized for its strong commitment to user data security and privacy. The platform has gained popularity as a trusted provider that prioritizes safeguarding user information and refrains from granting access to any third party.  

Moreover, Telegram’s distinctive network of data centers has earned reputation for enabling global connectivity. The system is set up to ensure that when a user accesses the "secret chats" capability, all messages on all associated devices immediately self-destruct.

Furthermore, if required, you may set a time restriction for your account to self-destruct. Using Telegram, you can simultaneously sync your communications across many devices. 

How secure is Telegram?

Who is Telegram not for?

Since normal chats are not, by default, encrypted, Telegram may not be appropriate for users that require complete end-to-end encryption. 

Those wanting anonymity may hesitate to provide a phone number for registration. Organizations requiring compliance with particular legislation may need messaging apps with more stringent data protection features. 

Furthermore, users who want extensive collaboration features beyond texting may prefer specialized platforms instead of Telegram.

10. Line

secure messaging

One of the most secure messaging software, Line, has positioned itself at a new level of communication, primarily due to its unique architecture. Line messaging app is free and accessible on various smartphones and desktop computers.

When this messaging service was first developed, Line introduced end-to-end encryption, improved the default privacy, and named the feature "Letter Sealing." Everyone can use this feature; however, the mode needs to be manually activated to benefit from it.

How secure is Line?

  • Centralized server data storage
  • End-to-end encryption for one-on-one chats
  • Group chat encryption not enabled by default
  • Message back up to line's servers
  • Optional two-step verification

Who is Line not for?

Line may not be ideal for users seeking full end-to-end encryption for group chats, as it is not enabled by default. Users with strict privacy concerns may favor decentralized or self-hosted messaging platforms. 

Additionally, those seeking ultimate anonymity might be reluctant to register with a phone number. Beyond Line's basic security features, organizations with rigorous compliance requirements may also need messaging apps offering more data protection measures.

Why is security important in messaging?

To safeguard confidential information and preserve communication privacy, message security is essential. Risks from the usage of metadata, hacking, and interfering messages could compromise personal information, confidential business information, and even national security.

Common security lapses, such as information disclosures and unauthorized access to messaging services, can have serious repercussions for businesses. According to an IBM report, In 2022, the average cost of a data breach was USD 4.35 million and increase of 2.6% from 2021 (USD 4.24 million)

The healthcare industry must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). There may be severe penalties for failing to protect patient data. For instance, following a data breach in 2020, Premera Blue Cross consented to pay USD 6.85 million to resolve HIPAA breaches.

In general, secure messaging helps prevent data theft, financial losses, and brand damage. It is especially important in sectors like healthcare, finance, and government, where it is imperative to secure sensitive patient data in order to maintain trust and compliance.

Why should you choose Rocket.Chat for secure messaging?

Rocket.Chat is serving organizations who want to enable easy communication among their employees and partners, as well as with customers. It's considered to be one of the most secure messaging apps on the market.

Rocket.Chat is a preferred choice for privacy-conscious organizations in heavily-regulated industries such as healthcare, government, and Financial Services. It's used both as a secure collaboration tool and as an embeddable chat solution that allows omnichannel customer communication.

Some of the features that make Rocket.Chat secure are its open-source code and the possibility to deploy anywhere. The numerous nuances in user roles allow organizations to fine-tune access to confidential data that gets exchanged and apply the multi-level security approach, as well as to stay within the regulatory frameworks such as GDPR or HIPAA.

Frequent external security audits together with additional features such as end-to-end encryption, Data Loss Prevention features, and Multi-Factor Authentication make Rocket.Chat the perfect choice for organizations that want easy communication without security compromises.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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