Let’s face it – there are times when you want to hide text messages so that others cannot see what you are texting or communicating to another person. With social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, and others, I often wonder who else is reading my “private” messages. Who else is collecting data about me, my likes, dislikes, political and religious beliefs, and more? How is my metadata being used and where is it stored? I want my communication to be private, and you probably do too. An encrypted messaging app will help solve some of these issues.
The privacy and security of data is a major concern as hackers and technology become more sophisticated and the use of phone apps to communicate increases at a steady pace. Take steps to ensure privacy when you text and share data with others. Take care when selecting an encrypted messaging app to protect your sacred data!
Why Private Messaging?
There are many reasons you may want your messages private and free from prying eyes. Communicating on the internet carries risks, and that risk increases based on the nature of the communication. Online dating, for example, is a type of communication which sometimes elicits unscrupulous characters, and you may want to conceal your personal information such as phone number or email. Following are scenarios in which a private messaging app, anonymous texting app, encrypted messaging app, or masked phone number may be useful:
- Online dating
- Responding or placing a job on HomeAdvisors or other “find a resource” sites such as Upwork or Fiverr
- Buying or selling on Craigslist
- Placing ads on sites to avoid countless phone calls after removing the ad
- Meeting new friends – initially you may want a masked phone number
- Responding to a personal ad
- Job search to avoid countless recruiter calls
- You are in a relationship you want to keep private
- You are planning a surprise event
- You are in an abusive relationship and want to hide your text messages or have them disappear once read
- You want to share sensitive data with a potential employer, credit card company or loan processing entity
There are many other reasons; these are only a few, so if you are looking for an Android or iPhone app that hides text messages or you want to find the best encrypted messaging apps, you have come to the right place.
The Importance of End-to-End Encryption (E2EE)
Secure messaging apps begin with encrypted messaging apps. End-to-end encryption apps use a technology that conceals the contents of messages to third parties. If an encrypted message is intercepted by a third party, the message cannot be read. Encryption should be included for messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, status updates and anything else communicated between two parties.
With encrypted messages, the sender uses a public key to encrypt the message, and the receiver uses a private key to decrypt the message. If the message passes through several servers from sender to receiver, it cannot be read without the decryption key.
End-to-end encryption means that only the sender and receiver can view or decipher the message being sent. This provides you a piece of mind as you communicate with friends or family members. Using an encrypted messaging app is good for everyone. It protects your freedom of speech. It keeps you from being hacked. It prevents identity theft, and is a must for encrypted messaging apps.
10 Best Encrypted Messaging Apps
There are many apps available these days to chat and communicate and share private data (like photos, contacts, files, audio, and videos) anonymously. Most phones come standard with a standard text messaging app, and we install others WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and many more. These apps make communication easier, quicker, and more efficient and, in many cases, without concern for punctuation, grammar, or other traditional nuances.
However, as we enjoy this instantaneous, informal interaction with other people or groups of people, we may be giving up privacy. There are thousands of hackers, corporations, governments, and others that would pay serious money to obtain your personal information and data. Unfortunately, some of the most popular messaging apps are the worst offenders in terms of exploiting data and not providing a secure environment. Thankfully, there are several encrypted messaging apps that are very secure and provide privacy to both Android and iPhone users. There are also other ways to protect yourself against privacy violations.
We have provided the top 10 here.
The Signal messaging app is one of the most secure apps when it comes to privacy and security. The messaging app replaces the SMS app in your Android or iPhone and sends messages securely using an open-source end-to-end encryption protocol (called Signal Protocol). Replacing the current SMS app means that it seamlessly and smoothly integrates, allowing an awesome user experience. This application is for Android, iOS, iPad, and desktop users too. Signal also supports VOIP.
This encrypted messaging app allows you to securely send messages, pictures, essentially anything you can send with a text message. The app became wildly popular during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, probably because security was seriously threatened as hackers became desperate to obtain personal data to sell. By one estimate, hacking was up 330% during the pandemic.
Messages can also be set to send anonymously, and you can automatically delete messages after a specified amount of time. The app needs your phone number for code verification, sign-up, and registration. The application does not broadcast your number to anyone, thanks to its security features, unless you elect to broadcast it. It also does not store data in the cloud unlike WhatsApp and other texting apps.
CoverMe is also a free private texting and calling app with great security features. The encryption technology used is military-grade and unbreakable and is not accessible by a third party. CoverMe has many features which makes it one of the best encrypted messaging apps available.
Following are some of CoverMe’s secure features:
- You cannot record private calls and texts using the app, as it does not maintain any history.
- You can make anonymous calls and send anonymous texts, and no one can track your number. In fact, the number does not appear on your phone bill.
- You can add a burner phone number to safeguard your primary number and send self-destructing messages, giving the app a James Bond feel!
- CoverMe allows use of a “decoy password” to hide sensitive content. The app places all your personal and private content into a “personal vault”, and the decoy password protects the vault and those messages you want hidden. You can even create multiple decoy passwords each protecting a separate private space.
- You can create CoverMe Circles which allows group chatting, and only you can see responses.
- The app uses end-to-end encryption and has a “shake” feature to further hide secret messages. Literally shake the phone to lock the private encrypted messaging app.
- Another impressive feature is a “mask app” which camouflages the app, so no one knows you are using it.
One downside of the app is that some features will not work unless the recipient also has the app, but the app still nonetheless provides an extra layer of privacy and some of the cool features mentioned above. Phone numbers are available in the following areas and may be updated from time to time: US, Canada, UK, China, and Mexico.
Smiley Private Texting SMS is for both Android and iOS users and is essentially an anonymous text app. The app protects your privacy by providing a valid burner number when you send a text thus disguising your real number.
The app does not require registration, but you must install the app. To send a message, enter the number you want to text as well as the message. The messages will be sent with the new number. Your recipient can respond to the texts which you will receive in the app. This is one of the most secure applications for anonymous texting.
Text Burner is a secure private encrypted messaging app that works similarly to Smiley with a secret message phone number. The app protects your real phone number during texting by keeping it private. This app is only available on the app store for iPhone and iPad users. To make it work you just have to press the “create burner” button and pick the area code and select your new burner number. Your new number is ready to go to make as many calls and send as many texts as you would like!
Text Burner is almost impossible to trace as it does not reveal any personal credentials of the caller. You can add many burner contact numbers from countries like the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Telegram markets itself as a cloud-based mobile and desktop encrypted messaging app with a focus on security and speed that is fast, easy to use, and free. Telegram is both for Apple and Android users. As the app allows you to sync devices, you never need to worry about data loss.
Telegram is a more secure encrypted messaging app than WhatsApp and Line because of the protocol and algorithms it uses. Telegram provides “secret chats” which use end-to-end encryption and leaves no trace on its servers. The app also supports self-destructing messages and does not allow forwarding. Secret chats are not part of the Telegram cloud and, thus, can only be accessed on the devices used to create the chat (devices of origin).
Hushed is a private encrypted messaging app to hide text messages and phone calls with a private phone number. The app is appropriate on those occasions when need a different number to keep your real one safe and anonymous.
Hushed works on the principle that “everyone has a right to phone privacy and the freedom to exercise this right whenever.” The app helps keep your number private when you do not want to give it out.
With Hushed, you can make and receive calls just like any regular phone number. Activity is kept completely separate from your real number and will not show up on your phone records or carrier bill.
You can also send and receive texts, gifs, pictures, and audio messages. Conversations are kept secure and private, and you can delete messages at any time to leave no trace behind.
Viber is a private encrypted messaging app service for instant messaging and voice/video calls, owned by Rakuten, Inc. that offers message deleting, hidden chats, and secret chats. Chats are protected by a PIN you set.
Viber protects your security with end-to-end encryption and messages that can be deleted or set to self-destruct after a specified time. Very few apps allow you to remove messages not only from your device but also from the recipient’s device.
Hidden chats allow you to start in a chat and mask your and the recipient’s phone number. The only items visible are the name and Viber profile photo. Hidden chats do not appear in the regular chat list and cannot be read without entering a password. Couple this with the self-destruct functionality, and it is easy to keep your conversations hidden.
Secret Chat allow you to set a self-destruct timer that will automatically delete the message after it has been seen by the recipient.
For Android users, screenshots are disabled, so users cannot maintain conversation history by taking screenshots. Screenshots are possible on an iPhone; however, you will be notified when a recipient takes a screenshot.
LINE is one of the fastest-growing applications that provides not only messaging but also free video and voice calls. While there are other apps for hardcore privacy protection, LINE does have some security features. A discussion about privacy apps would not be complete without mentioning LINE, and I could not resist as the app has unique and incredibly fun features unlike anything seen in other apps.
LINE has a hidden chat feature with end-to-end encryption that allows users to set self-destruct timers on messages. You can also password protect the app (different from the password on the phone) which should deter some snoopers from reviewing your chats!
Hidden Chats take place in a different chat room from regular chats. After the recipient receives a secure message, the content will display for a predefined amount of time. After that time, the message will self-destruct and be automatically deleted. This feature allows users to send private messages and images that contain sensitive information that only the recipient should see.
The Wickr Me instant messaging app provides end-to-end encrypted messages and disappearing messages, including photos, videos, and file attachments. The software is available for both iOS and Android. The app allows you to control who can access your content and for what period of time it remains accessible. The only items required for registration are a user id and password; no phone number or email are required. Your address book remains private and is not stored on Wickr Me servers. The app also does not store metadata for any aspect of your account, unlike some of the more popular encrypted messaging apps.
Threema touts itself as being the best encrypted messaging app to keep your data out of the hands of hackers, corporations, and governments. We could all certainly use that! Threema uses end-to-end encryption for not only text but also voice messages, and messages can be sent completely anonymously. Not all apps provide end-to-end encrypted video calls, so this is significant.
Private chats on Threema can be locked down with a PIN or fingerprint and can be hidden from the chat list. Contact verification is used to avoid attacks.
Your identity in Threema is protected unlike other messenger apps. Rather than using your phone number, Threema creates a unique 8-digit ID which allows you to send messages completely anonymously.
There you have it. We hope you enjoyed the top 10 encrypted messaging apps, and we hope the app makers hear us and understand how important privacy or the ability to send private messages is to its user base. Be sure to read about other ways to protect yourself against privacy violations.