We rely heavily on instant messaging apps to keep in touch with family and friends. These apps allow us to communicate through SMS, audio calls and video calls. Because conversations often contain sensitive and private details, it’s important that no one else can see them. This is where end-to-end encryption, also known as E2EE, comes into play.
It is a security protocol that encrypts data so only the sender and recipient can read it. Even if a hacker gets hold of the data, they cannot read it because they do not have the necessary security key to decrypt it. The data is encrypted as soon as it leaves the sender’s device and only decrypted on the recipient’s device. Messaging apps with end-to-end encryption keep all your text messages, video calls and audio calls safe and secure. Neither third parties nor the messaging company itself can read these messages or calls.
These are the best end-to-end encrypted messaging apps to try in 2022.
Signal is an app you’ll always hear about when it comes to secure and privacy-focused messaging apps. It offers end-to-end encryption for all messages and calls by default. Encryption is backed by an open-source signaling protocol that keeps things transparent.
The app supports both audio and video calls, as well as group calls. For those who prefer SMS, you can send photos, videos, GIFs, stickers, documents, and audio messages. Signal is an independent non-profit organization and relies on grants and donations. It is available for all leading platforms on mobile and desktop.
WhatsApp is the most famous instant messenger application with billions of users worldwide. It also offers end-to-end encryption for all messages and calls by default. Its encryption is based on the same protocol that Signal uses and has been in use since 2016.
The app is packed with all the features you would expect from an instant messenger. Recently the limits on file sizes and number of uses in group calls have been increased to make things better. You can even use disappearing chats if you want messages to disappear after a preset time. The only thing to know is that WhatsApp is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), which may not please some people. Although Meta cannot read your conversations due to the encryption, it can certainly log other data about you, which is common at Big Tech.
Telegram is an open source instant messaging application and has built a solid reputation. The app’s end-to-end encryption is not enabled by default. It can only be used in Secret Chats mode. This means if you chat with someone in standard mode, your chats will not be covered by encryption.
Also, users can send self-destructing messages. These texts are automatically deleted after the preselected time. There are many other features that make Telegram a very useful app. These include support for adding up to 200,000 people in groups, creating channels, creating bots, and the ability to share large media files
Threema is another secure, open-source messaging app for home and business users. It contains no ads and also does not collect any user data. This is because it is a paid application and there is a one-time fee of around $4. Once you pay the fee, you can use the app forever.
The app offers end-to-end encryption and claims to be fully GDPR compliant. There is a special version called Threema Work for businesses. It claims to have over 7,000 companies and organizations among its customers. One of the good things about the app is that it can be used anonymously if you don’t want to associate your account with an email address or phone number.
Wickr Me is an end-to-end encrypted messaging app that is not that well known. It offers encryption for all messages and calls. One can also send self-destructing messages, which can be easily configured. It even removes metadata from media files to improve your privacy.
The use of the app is completely free for all users. It also has a $100,000 bug bounty program where everyone is encouraged to take a look at the app and discover potential vulnerabilities. However, it only supports adding up to 10 group members and one-on-one audio and video calling, which might be limiting for you.