What Is the Mest Messenger for Privacy and Security?

Here you are going to find an encrypted, private and secure alternative to WhatsApp. For you we have evaluated popular messaging apps on privacy, security and transparency, guided by the three criteria for data-privacy.

Updated, 12/05/2020

Messenger Secure Private Transparent

SMS20)SMS Vulnerabilities21)Spying on Mobile Communications

Google Hangouts22)Privacy Policy: Google

Facebook Messenger23)Privacy Policy: Facebook

WhatsApp24)Privacy Policy: WhatsApp

iMessage25)Privacy Policy: Apple

Telegram26)Privacy Policy: Telegram

Threema27)Privacy Policy: Threema

Wire28)Privacy Policy: Wire29)Secure Messaging App Wire Stores Everyone You've Ever Contacted in Plain Text

Signal30)Privacy Policy: Signal

Messenger Secure Private Transparent

SMS31)SMS Vulnerabilities32)Spying on Mobile Communications

Google Hangouts33)Privacy Policy: Google

Facebook Messenger34)Privacy Policy: Facebook

WhatsApp35)Privacy Policy: WhatsApp

iMessage36)Privacy Policy: Apple

Telegram37)Privacy Policy: Telegram

Threema38)Privacy Policy: Threema

Wire39)Privacy Policy: Wire40)Secure Messaging App Wire Stores Everyone You've Ever Contacted in Plain Text

Signal41)Privacy Policy: Signal

An online service is secure, if the transfer of data and its storage on a server or user device is encrypted. Here different methods are used which differ in its strength. The most secure method is end-to-end encryption. It guarantees that only sender and recipient have access to the digital keys for the data.

An online service is private, if the provider of the service collects no or only minimal data, which are not directly needed its service. This means that no personal data is collected, which could be sold to other companies or used by the provider itself.

An online service is transparent, if it can be guaranteed that it is secure and private. To prove this, the program’s source code can be made publicly available and accessible for everyone to inspect. This practice is called open source and is a central aspect of digital trustworthiness, as it makes the software’s operations transparent.

= Criteria meet
= Criteria partially meet
= Criteria not meet

Our Favourite: Signal

Why Is Signal Our Favourite Encrypted and Secure Messenger?

Signal is a messaging app such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Signal differs from other messaging apps, because it does not collect any data about you and your contacts as well as it uses end-to-end encryption for protecting every message you send. This makes Signal a private and secure alternative to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Signal is not only available for iPhone and Android but also, in connection with the app on your smartphone, on Linux, macOS and Windows.

What Makes Signal Better Than WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger?

Signal is developed by the Signal Foundation – a nonprofit organisation.1)Non-Progit: SIGNAL TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION The focus of Signal was always on privacy and security for its users and it was developed with this goal in mind.

What does that mean for the app? The Signal app is open-source software which means that everyone can verify that the app does what is is supposed to and not anything else. Open source is of key importance for software transparency.

Signal protects your messages with end-to-end encryption

Signal uses end-to-end encryption (E2E) for protecting every message that is sent using the service. This method of encryption ensures that only you and the person you are communicating with can read your messages – and no one else, not even Signal.2)EFF: End-to-end encryption3)WIRED: Don’t Let WikiLeaks Scare You Off of Signal and Other Encrypted Chat Apps

That is like writing a letter and putting it into a vault and then sending the vault to the person you are communicating with. This way the service delivering the vault cannot read the letter – even if they would want to.

With Signal you have access to one of the best vaults worldwide, if not the best.
Signal’s end-to-end encryption method is so good and reliable that WhatsApp uses it, as their E2E encryption method, too.

Does that mean that WhatsApp is as good as Signal, because they use the same encryption protocol? Unfortunately not. The reason for that is the difference in privacy.

Signal does not collect any data about you

Contrary to WhatsApp, Signal does not collect any data about you, your friends or your family. WhatsApp cannot read the content of your messages – Facebook Messenger can –, but it has access to all the metadata you generate using its service. Therefore WhatsApp can see with whom you are communicating, how long your messages are, how many messages you send, at what time and lots more.4)WhatsApp Privacy Policy: Information We Collect But not only WhatsApp has access to this data. Facebook has access too (WhatsApp was taken over by Facebook in 2014) and any other company with which your data is shared or sold to.5)What information does WhatsApp share with the Facebook Companies?

Metadata is data about other data, e.g. the time at which you have sent a message.

Metadata can say a lot about you and your behaviour.

As an example: If I send messages at night, Facebook knows that I am not asleep and therefore it can show different advertisements to my because, based on the presumption that I am going to be tired, I am going to behave differently.
Not sleeping is bad for my health and may lead to a heightened risk of developing cancer or diabetes.6)How much can an extra hour’s sleep change you? This data is also of interest to insurance companies and may lead to a higher cost for healthcare coverage or life insurance.7)Why the future of life insurance may depend on your online presence8)Social media posts could affect insurance costs, experts say9)Social media intelligence and profiling in the insurance industry…10)What you post on social media could increase your health insurance premium And the same is true for you.

Signal does not collect or store this data about you or your contacts – and you don’t have to take their word for it, because the app and server are open source software and as a result anyone can inspect its code and make sure that the software does what is is supposed to.11)Signal on GitHub

An additional advantage of Signal is that it doesn’t even know from whom a message is coming, although the recipient is known due to technical reasons. This privacy feature is called Sealed Sender and is being developed by Signal.12)Signal Has a Clever New Way to Shield Your Identity

This makes Signal a secure and private alternative to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Why Is Signal Better Than Telegram, Threema, iMessage and Wire?

Telegram, Threema, iMessage and Wire are all apps with a focus on privacy and security. Threema and iMessage are not open source and therefore it is not possible to transparently verify that your data stays private.13)Secure Messaging Apps Comparison

Open source also leads to more people having access to and reviewing the software’s code. This can lead to more errors and back doors being found. Back doors are also present in some software for espionage purposes.

Telegram is not as secure as it may seem!

Telegram’s marketing may make you believe that it is secure. Unfortunately that is not the case and your privacy might suffer as a consequence.

Messages which you send using Telegram are not protected using end-to-end encryption (E2E) by default.14)Why You Should Stop Using Telegram Right Now E2E encryption is the most secure encryption method for encrypting communication between two or more participants.

For Telegram you have to enable the so-called Secret Chat for every conversation in order to use E2E encryption. However, Secret Chat is not available for every platform and may limit the functionality of the app.15)Telegram: Q: How do I start a secret chat?
For normal conversations (the ones not protected by E2E encryption) Telegram saves every message on its servers. This leads to the problem that someone could get access to your account – and subsequently all your conversation – only by intercepting the SMS with your login code sent to your phone.16)The reason for this is that your Telegram account is not protected by a password but only by a code sent to your via SMS. Because SMS is unsecure, your Telegram account is also not well protected. This includes every message and media not sent through a Secure Chat. Signal does not save your messages anywhere else besides on your phone – and thanks to E2E encryption, even if someone would get hold of your data they could not access it. Signal and WhatsApp notify your contacts when your phone number is registered again, for example after installing the app on a new device. Telegram does not do that.

Furthermore Telegram’s servers are not open source. Whether your messages stay private on their servers can therefore not be transparently confirmed, which leads to the same transparency problems as with Threema and iMessage.

Telegram is less secure than WhatsApp but hopefully more privat than Facebook Messenger.

What about Wire?

Wire is open source and uses end-to-end encryption for your messages as well as for calls and video conferences. In 2019 Wire moved its holding company to the US and changed its privacy policy, leading to concerns over user’s privacy.17)Cutting the Wire18)Messaging app Wire confirms $8.2M raise, responds to privacy concerns after moving holding company to the US
Wire also stores unencrypted metadata about whom you are communicating with.19)Secure Messaging App Wire Stores Everyone You’ve Ever Contacted in Plain Text

Therefore we can only recommend Signal as a secure, private and transparent messenger.

Can Signal Keep up With the Functionalities WhatsApp Offers?

Signal is a good choice, not only as a private and secure messenger, but also because of all the available functions.
You can send text and audio messages, photos, videos, documents, your location and more.

You can also make audio and video calls via Signal with the same security, create groups and let messages disappear after a certain time – a feature which WhatsApp doesn’t offer.

Of course you can see whether a message has already been delivered or read.
Only Stories are not available.

Functions Signal WhatsApp

Text and audio messages

Photos, videos and attachments

Audio and video calls

Groups

Read receipts

Stories

Disappearing messages

Encrypted backups (Android)

Functions Signal WhatsApp

Text and audio messages

Photos, videos and attachments

Audio and video calls

Groups

Read receipts

Stories

Disappearing messages

Encrypted backups (Android)

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  • May 2020: Page created