7 best secure messaging apps you can start using right away

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Everyone is texting rather than calling these days. But the widespread use of messaging apps has also raised the concerns of privacy and security. 

How can we make sure that our text messages are kept safe so that external parties do not have access to our private conversations and personal information? 

The simple solution is this: find an app that has end-to-end-encryption or (E2EE). This means that no third party will be able to view the contents of your conversations – only you and the sender and the recipient can see all the messages. 

This safeguards your messages from parties like your mobile carrier, the messaging app itself, the government or any organisation looking to access your private conversations without your consent. 

Here are the 7 best free messaging apps with E2EE that you can use to securely text away with a peace of mind! 

Signal 

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Signal may not be as popular as WhatsApp or Telegram, but since 2014 it is considered by many experts to be the most secure messaging app. Even Signal itself cannot intercept your conversations. 

It has the overall reputation of keeping your messages safe because while most apps offer E2EE as an option, for Signal it is the default setting. It has self-destructing messages – they will automatically disappear after a duration you set. 

Lastly, the Signal Protocol, Signal’s encryption algorithm, is touted as the gold standard of mobile encryption – even other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger use it. Your phone number is required to sign up for a Signal account.

Telegram  

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Gaining widespread use close to a decade since 2013, Telegram is also another great messaging app that keeps your conversations secure and private using E2EE. 

The way Telegram encrypts your messages is however only through its secret chats feature – and not on its regular chats. Telegram also allows you to send self-destructing messages, which will be removed after a specific time. 

A good thing about Telegram is that it is possible to use Telegram to chat with no phone number. And when you delete your message in a chat, Telegram will also delete it on your recipient’s device at the same time. 

It is a free app but Telegram recently launched a paid tier with upgrades to its download speeds and upload sizes.

WhatsApp

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Known as having the widest user base in the world, WhatsApp has had its fair share of security issues over the years (it launched in 2009). Despite its infamous privacy policy change in 2021 which led to your personal data being shared with Facebook, WhatsApp was one of the first messaging apps that enabled E2EE for you to enjoy your privacy while messaging since 2016. 

Additionally, users are warned when E2EE is not applied to any chat. It also offers a two-step verification process that requires you to key in a PIN to verify your phone number on other devices. This year, it has also recently extended the time limit for the “delete for everyone” feature to two days and 12 hours. 

Facebook Messenger

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Starting out as the chat feature of the social media giant, Facebook Messenger is now another messaging app that requires no phone number to register and use – you just need your Facebook profile as your user ID. 

The 2011 app includes E2EE through Secret Conversations (introduced in 2016), enabled by the powerful Signal Protocol encryption. You can securely send messages only if you manually activate this feature. Facebook Messenger also allows self-destructing messages. Another security feature includes not being able to see your Secret Conversations from Facebook Messenger on a second device. Facebook is watching – so remember to control your privacy on Facebook Messenger.

Viber

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Coming on board in 2010, Viber offers E2EE on its messaging app – using its own encryption protocol. Your phone number can be viewed by all Viber users, or you can choose to start a hidden-number chat with a user who is not in your contact list. None of your data is stored on Viber servers

Other ways Viber keeps your messaging secure is through Secret Chats (with disappearing messages), and Hidden Chats (hide sensitive chats from your chat list). One cool feature of Viber is a colour-coded lock icon to show the different levels of encryption your conversations are on (grey, green or red). And although Viber is a free app, there are ads and channel recommendations that you have to swim through.

LINE

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Line is a Japanese messaging app that has broad use in Asia. You can either register using your phone number or Facebook login. Similar to Telegram, if you do not set up your user ID, other users can add you using your phone number. 

Users need to opt-in to the E2EE feature – LINE calls this “Letter Sealing”, allowing only the sender and receiver to read messages. Make sure you see “This chat is protected with Letter Sealing” when using the messaging app. This means E2EE is enabled. 

Do note that LINE collects personal data otherwise – so beware. One way to keep your LINE account safe is to keep your app updated.

KakaoTalk

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KakaoTalk is a Korean messaging app that fully encrypts your conversations since 2014. The default chat mode is not protected, and E2EE is only enabled when you activate the “Secret Chat” feature, something that was inspired by Telegram. 

Using a virtual private network (VPN) adds an extra layer of security so that no third party can access what you send or receive. KakaoTalk uses its users’ personal information with their consent. KakaoTalk also has the basic security functions WhatsApp has, like allowing the deletion of messages after being sent, and disabling the text box by turning on read-only mode.

There you have it, the 7 best secure messaging apps that you can start using right away. Take note that other than relying on the apps’ own security features for messaging your friends safely, there are other steps you can take to increase the levels of protection – such as keeping your app regularly updated, using your messaging app through a VPN, and of course not clicking on suspicious links from anyone, which leaves your messaging app account vulnerable to hackers who want to use your personal information against you.

Mobile security and SIM-only 

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To protect your mobile devices, you can go one step further by subscribing to M1 mobile security for $1.50 per month. 

Not yet an M1 subscriber? M1 is now offering some affordable data packs through its SIM-only plans – either 80GB for $17.95 or 100GB for $19.95. Plus, get $15 off your first month with the code mpowered15, only for mPowered readers! Sign up now!

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