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The Most Secure Messaging Apps in 2022

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We have all been left speechless lately, when Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram weren’t accessible for hours on one October day of 2021. The panic-inducing downtime has once again proven how much people and businesses depend on these apps for daily interaction. In addition, some 3.5 billion mobile phone users access them for communication in 2021. Therefore, it remains unclear what will be the most secure messaging apps in 2022. Luckily, there are some tried and true methods to come as close to the answer as possible.

Hopefully, CPOs, EPAs, and security companies don’t rely heavily on apps with a questionable history of handling users’ data. Conversely, there has been a surge in secure messaging Android and iOS applications that are suitable for the world of executive protection. The notion rings especially true when working with principals, their families, and entourage who may accidentally jeopardize their safety by using apps not even remotely secure.

Speaking of which, what makes an app safe and secure, and which ones do security operatives recommend? With all the available information, can we predict the most secure messaging apps in 2022?

In this article, let’s dissect all the notable characteristics of the apps that we expect to be on the home page of everyone’s screens!

Powerful Features of the Most Secure Messaging Apps in 2022

The world’s most prominent cybersecurity companies agree that applications that we use for written and video interaction should have distinct solid traits to deserve a place on our smart devices. But, it doesn’t matter what tech giants say in their public statements. What counts is the everyday use and independent testing of their services.

First of all, let’s dive into four criteria against which we will measure the performance of each application on our list of the most secure messaging apps in 2022. These include:

  1. Open-source code,
  2. Self-destructing messages,
  3. End-to-end encryption, and
  4. No data collection policy (or use of data).

Open-Source Code

Accessible to any person with an internet connection, open-source code means that anyone can see, change, and disseminate the code behind the apps as they see fit. Heavily reliant on peer review and community production, cybersecurity experts have designed open-source code to exude the principles of decentralization and collaboration. Hence, apps that practice this method are at better odds of having their security efforts yield expected results.

Self-Destructing and Disappearing Messages

As anyone with age-old messages in their phone knows, the feature of deleting old information with a timer sometimes rings invaluable. Leaving no data trail behind has increasingly become a concern for security professionals and laypeople alike. With this hallmark, applications can send disappearing or self-destructing messages with expiration dates, knowing that nothing can trace the pictures and texts to your device.

End-To-End Encryption

In a nutshell, this safeguard refers to a secure communication method that blocks third parties from accessing data while it’s on its way from one end device or system to another. Simply put, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) ensures that no one can interfere with or intercept your personal content while it goes back and forth between two users. As a result, some cybersecurity experts refer to E2E as a safe to which only the two intended conversationalists have the keys.

No Data Collection Policy

Some messaging apps brag about their E2E efforts but say nothing about collecting their users’ metadata. Succinctly, metadata comprises information like for how long and who you talk to, on what device, your phone number, IP address, and other vital data. The use of such data can help tech companies launch concerted efforts to improve the quality of their services, make them more appealing ― but also refine their marketing techniques and campaigns.

Now that we have established the four vital criteria of the most secure messaging apps in 2022, let’s find out which applications rise to the challenge!

most secure messaging apps in 2022
Copyright © EPWired 2021

Signal

Hailed as the best all-around bet, cybersecurity experts often sanction Signal as the best kid on the block. However, as it isn’t a pre-loaded default app on phones ― the likes of Messages and Messenger apps ― it lacks the overall usership. Nevertheless, it compensates for that with its smooth look and near-perfect security features. To top it off, Signal uses its own protocol by default, stretching to video and voice calls and instant messages.

An additional reason why the famous app is set to continue its upward course is that the only information you grant it is your phone number. However, Signal’s developers are currently working on arrangements to decouple even that data from app usage.

Unfortunately, as of 2021, mainland China users are unable to use the application. Allegedly, Chinese authorities have banned it in an attempt to stifle dissent and prevent citizens from accessing international social media platforms.

✓ Open-source code

✓ Self-destructing messages

✓ End-to-end encryption

✓ No data collection policy

Wickr

Unlike Signal, Wickr offers an enterprise account for USD 25 per month. However, the free version allows up to 10 users, with three paid tiers with no user limit. In addition, as one of the first messaging apps to embrace end-to-end encryption, Wickr reportedly undergoes regular security audits.

Its creators often boast about its screenshot detection, ensuring deleted files stay irretrievable, and blocking third-party keyboards on iOS. However, one of the downsides to the app is that it doesn’t have nearly as many users as Whatsapp and Signal. Hence, you can be ― or, rather, must be ― extremely picky with whom you chat.

Sadly, due to Russia’s recent crackdown on encrypted apps, Wickr has also come under fire in the past few years.

✓ Open-source code

✓ Self-destructing messages

✓ End-to-end encryption

No data collection policy

Telegram

Not as straightforward in its E2EE as Signal and Wickr, Telegram stores your data on its servers unless you encrypt your chats. Therefore, your messages may be at risk unknowingly to you.

In addition, the app can host large chat groups of up to 10,000 members, making it an exception among the most secure messaging apps in 2022. Thanks to this quality, demonstrators around the world have used it to organize protests. But, short of luck, this fact has attracted the attention of countless state actors to exploit the feature.

Still, the advantages of using Telegram abound. In fact, it offers two layers of secure encryption: client-to-client encryption and server-to-client encryption.

Unfortunately, some countries had imposed temporary bans on the app, including Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Iran, Hong Kong, China, India, and others.

✓ Open-source code

✓ Self-destructing messages

✓ End-to-end encryption (not by default but only through the Secret Chats feature)

No data collection policy

Whatsapp

The giant in the room, Whatsapp is the most used messaging app in the world. Reportedly, two billion users conversed via the application in 2021, while its numbers will likely continue to rise in 2022. However, its vast user base makes it an appealing target for cybercriminals and other malefactors.

In addition, the first and most prominent concern that users and tech scholars often mention is that Facebook owns it. Yes, the app started off relatively autonomously. Nevertheless, Whatsapp has been tainted by its ownership, leading to towering concerns about its future use.

Moreover, a few countries ban their citizens from using the app, including the United Arab Emirates, China, Qatar, Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

Open-source code (as it bases its encryption on Signal’s protocol and not on its own)

✓ Self-destructing messages

✓ End-to-end encryption (but some experts find it difficult to predict if this will be the norm in the future)

✓ No data collection policy (although concerns are present due to Facebook being its owner)

Viber

With close to 270 million monthly active users, Viber has used end-to-end encryption since 2016. That means that it has been ahead of its competitors to a certain degree in this field. Sometimes called the user-friendliest app, experts often refer to Viber as a rival to the less-secure Skype on mobile.

Interestingly, their privacy policy states: “It’s important you understand that by using our Services, you give us consent to collect, use, disclose, and retain your personal information and other information but we will never read or listen to the content you are sharing privately.”

Open-source code

✓ Self-destructing messages

✓ End-to-end encryption (apart from messages sent within Viber communities)

No data collection policy

Threema

Threema is the only app on our list of the most secure messaging apps in 2022 that users must pay to use. Yes, even the basic version. However, some tech pundits believe that this fact is, actually, a plus. The reasoning behind this is that a free messaging app may look for ways to monetize its product. Opposed to that, Threema collects funds from its users without having to look for third-party funding.

Still, since they charge their users, Threema owns a meager user base of only a few million users. However, with exceptionally high scores for privacy and security, the app also boasts private chats protected by a PIN or fingerprint. An additional plus for Threema is that new users need not enter their email addresses or phone numbers. Therefore, the app is entirely anonymous, unlike Signal and Telegram, which demand these primary data from their user base.

✓ Open-source code

Self-destructing messages (although users can delete messages, there is no custom timer for removing them after a specified period)

✓ End-to-end encryption

✓ No data collection policy

In my opinion, Signal Private Messenger is the only secure messaging app that should be used by EP and security teams. There is a reason why people such as the disgraced whistleblower Edward Snowden use the app. The app provides end-to-end encryption.

I personally use the app for messaging about threats, EP-related issues about my principal, and have trained my principal’s entire household staff on how to use the app.

Justen Keating, Director of Operations, Keating Global Risks

In Conclusion

Expectedly, the applications we explore on our list function across platforms. All in all, they have a simple interface that allows for seamless navigation and a near-perfect user experience.

However, not everything is about the sleek look and gloss. In fact, executive protection professionals tend to focus on usability and security instead of other features that may be more appealing to the general population.

In this article, we analyzed some of the most secure messaging apps in 2022. So, to conclude: Drum roll, please!

Per the four criteria we set out at the beginning of the article, the following seems evident. Signal Private Messenger trumps all other apps on our list regarding security for its users. In fact, it has been enjoying a staggering rise in the past few years, with around 50,000 daily downloads. The app seems to be gaining massive traction, as Big Tech does little to assuage its users’ frustration with recent data breaches.

Finally, one thing is for sure. The EP industry continues to be on the lookout for apps and software to make their work more productive and principals safer.

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