What makes a secure messaging app?
Typically, when it comes to messaging apps, there tends to be a trade-off between how easy they are to use and their level of security. Although there are no absolute guarantees when it comes to complete privacy and security protection, experts report that, for general use, there's good security in place with most secure messaging apps.
However, there are still some areas for concern, which are not easily solved without reducing usability – for example, if you send a user a picture, they can take a screenshot.
How secure is it?
We rated the security of your message when it's on your phone, on its way to your contact and on your friend's phone, including how it's stored at both ends. The apps that rate highest for security fulfil more of the security features criteria. These include encryption, amount of user data collected, server location and protection. They also include protection from messages being copied/forwarded, message destruction, security audit and if the code is open-source.
How easy is it to use?
The ease of use rating is given based on the app's clarity and usability in performing messaging in a secure way. Apps that have confusing security settings score lower, as do apps that are difficult to operate. Apps that score highly generally have good secure defaults and clear avenues for altering or improving security.
What features does it support?
The apps in our test are scored for the range of features they have in addition to sending and receiving messages. This includes:
- what types of attachments are supported and whether attachments can be saved
- what permissions are required to access what files
- the type of login
- message limits and whether the user can manage data retention
- idle time lock
- user alert and types of notifications
- user typing alert
- message previews
- support for use on more than one device
- whether the user remains logged in
- the way the account can be terminated.
Our overall score used to rank the apps reflects the importance of both security and usability in relation to how well a messaging app functions. We suggest choosing an app with an overall rating of 70 or above. On the other hand, if you're more interested in using an app that's simple to get up and running, you can choose one that rates higher in the ease of use criteria.
Ready to download?
Take a look at our secure messaging app reviews for full test results.