Messaging apps started trending in the mid-2010s and still show no sign of slowing down. It all started on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and WeChat with private messages, but today’s messaging app options have grown exponentially. Privacy and data security issues have also mushroomed over the years, especially as more developers began throwing their apps into the ring.
Everyone understands that messaging apps are crucial tools for startup and small business leaders and entrepreneurs out there on their own trying to make connections, find leads and interview prospective employees while on the go. Whether using Android or iOS devices and apps from their respective app stores, there is a messaging app for everyone that is easy to use and functional. Business leaders are coming to terms with the need to also protect their mobile devices and user data.
What Makes a Messaging App Secure?
While business leaders are probably focused on making new business connections or meeting with associates for a collaborative session on a top messaging app, external bad actors have other designs on everything from your SMS to servers. It's just as essential that messaging app users think about blocking rogue hackers, the government, or anyone else who might try to intercept and read confidential communications.
Here are a few top features that make a messaging app secure:
End-to-End Encryption. One essential feature to check for when selecting the right messaging app is end-to-end encryption, a specialized communication system or strategy that scrambles chat messages. That means that only the sender and receiver of the messages can read them, thanks to special keys. Keep in mind that, even if a messaging app offers end-to-end encryption, it is probably not the default setting, so users should check this feature and turn it on right away regardless of the app.
Secure Log-In with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). This log-in system requires two distinct forms of identification to log into a messaging app and access confidential areas. Messaging app developers are increasingly adding this feature to strengthen security. The messaging app will require two types of information that you set in the user's profile, such as a password or personal identification number (PIN) sent to the user's designated email address or telephone number. Some devices allow users to use a fingerprint as one piece of information, for instance.
Open-Source. Open-source security means that everyone involved with the app has a vested interest in maintaining the messaging app's integrity. Opening up the open-source code allows for greater transparency and accountability by industry experts.
Some messaging apps—even those using end-to-end encryption and 2FA—participate in some degree of data collection. That means they have access to and track a user's vital information, such as whom they talk to, how long they talk, the time and date of the communication, the phone number, and the IP address. In any case, it's crucial that users take some security matters into their own hands and use a VPN to prevent the collection of their confidential data.
The Best Secure Messaging Apps for Growing a Business
Business leaders ready to join the ever-growing pool of messaging app users to enhance their growing business—gaining access to millions of other monthly messaging app users—might need some guidance about which ones best meet their business goals and needs. Fortunately, there are numerous messaging apps that make users' private account information and data security their priority, including:
Signal's tagline is "speak freely," and the company claims an endorsement from Edward Snowden. Signal has established itself as one of the most secure messaging apps for Android and iOS users because of its focus on privacy without sacrificing all the best messaging security features, such as end-to-end encryption and how it's built: open-source, peer-reviewed, and funded only through grants and donations, notes Fossbytes.
Further, Signal makes it clear that they cannot read user messages or listen to calls, and they don't let anyone else do so either, making privacy the default setting for Signal.
WhatsApp is a popular messaging platform that has been around since 2014. The messaging app integrates and uses the same end-to-end encryption chat protocol as Signal, ensuring that only the caller and receiver know what goes on in any messaging session.
Unfortunately, WhatsApp has experienced chat leaks and has collected massive amounts of metadata from users. Some of that data includes:
- Advertising data
- Coarse location
- Purchase history
- Email address
- Product interaction
- User ID
- Device ID
- Other diagnostic data
With that in mind, users can enjoy private messaging, but WhatsApp doesn't necessarily guarantee user privacy when it comes to metadata.
Telegram is a unique messaging app that features multiple group sessions and private messaging for users around the world. The best part is that Telegram is widely known as one of the most secure apps, never sharing your data with third parties. Technically more of a cloud-based, cross-platform instant messaging system with a light operational load than a conventional messaging app, users will find end-to-end encryption on video calling, file-sharing, VoIP, and a self-destruct option anyone can use across all used devices after a particularly confidential chat.
Wire claims that it's the most secure messaging platform, offering end-to-end encryption and open-source security. However, the company has come under some scrutiny for lack of transparency in fund-raising efforts, per Tech Crunch. When people place their trust in an app, having private conversations, and counting on a certain privacy level, transparency is vital for maintaining confidence and trust.
5. Wickr Me
Founded in 2012 by security and privacy advocates, Wickr Me features end-to-end encryption as the default for all user conversations. It also uses an open-source code and regularly undergoes security audits. Originally designed for private use, the first free version allows up to 10 users and can help entrepreneurs start. The paid version allows for unlimited users.
One unique and useful security feature is the notification sent when someone takes a screenshot of a conversation.
Previously called Cyber Dust, Dust is a private messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption as a default for secure chats and messaging. Dust's security is especially noteworthy because it allows users to erase their messages off other people's phones or servers. Dust also disables screenshots while sent messages disappear within 100 seconds, and unopened messages turn to dust within 24 hours. This app does have good security features and can act as a highly functioning messaging app. It also serves as a social media platform and newsfeed.
One of today's most popular messaging apps, Threema is one of the best available because it keeps data away from nearly everyone who doesn't need to see it, including the government, private businesses, and cybercriminals. Threema uses end-to-end encryption for shared media, group chats, private messages, and public statuses. It also uses open-source code and assigns users a unique key, allowing them to use the app anonymously.
Viber is probably doing plenty right with one billion active users as a secure, simple, and fast messaging app. Viber offers encryption messaging on all devices and color-codes conversations, indicating how secure they are. Users don't need to worry about a highly confidential conversation left on their account with the self-destruct feature. One problem with Viber's end-to-end encryption is that it only works for one-on-one chats, leaving group chats vulnerable.
Messaging apps have become a vital part of the modern business leader's tool kit, but they’re meaningless if the technology leaves someone open to loss of privacy or stolen data. Are you planning to go work in cybersecurity and understand how to keep professionals and their associates and employees secure from external threats? If you want to learn more about cybersecurity or information security, earn your MBA - Information Security/Assurance from JWU Online. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].