Secure your messages

Get Norton 360 Deluxe with its built-in VPN to encrypt your communications and help keep your messages private. 

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Secure your messages

Get Norton 360 Deluxe with its built-in VPN to encrypt your communications and help keep your messages private.

Get it now

What is secure messaging? (+ 12 safe apps for 2024)

A woman in a yellow turtleneck using her phone to learn about secure messaging.

Secure messaging apps encrypt your communications to ward off hacking attacks and keep your conversations private. These apps help safeguard the messages and sensitive documents you send over the platform against cyber threats. For more comprehensive protection, get Norton 360 Deluxe, which features a built-in VPN that encrypts the information you send and receive online through any app. 

How does secure messaging work?

Secure messaging applications use end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to keep messages private as they travel between the sender and the intended recipient’s devices. The messaging service uses mathematical operations to scramble the message—turning it into gibberish that only becomes decipherable to the person with a valid decryption key.

Image explaining how secure messaging works by utilizing encryption.

Features of secure messaging apps

Secure messaging apps are built to safeguard user communications without sacrificing a strong user experience (UX). These apps accomplish this with must-have features and functionalities such as:

  • End-to-end encryption: E2EE is a system for private communication that masks messages using a method called public key cryptography.
  • User authentication: Secure messaging apps leverage identity verification processes like multifactor (MFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA) to guarantee that only approved users have access to private messages.
  • Open source: Ideally, the secure messaging service you select will make its code public so experts and users can review the platform’s security measures and inspect the code for flaws.
  • Rich media: If you’re looking for an app to replace your regular unsecured messaging app, choose one with comparable rich messaging features, including text, images, videos, GIFs, and stickers.
  • Self-destruct and expirations: A truly secure messaging service will include message-destruction features to prevent recipients from saving messages against the sender’s wishes. 
  • HIPAA-compliant: This capability won’t be necessary for every user, but healthcare organizations should learn about HIPAA’s security requirements when they select a messaging app.

Below, you’ll find a list of secure messaging apps that leverage some or all of these features to enhance user privacy.

The 12 most notable secure messaging apps of 2024

Here are some of the best secure messaging services available today, in no particular order:

Here’s what you should know about each.

1. Signal

Price: Free
Available on: Android and iOS

Screenshot showing a conversation between users on the Signal app.

Signal is a free messaging app that locks down user communications with E2EE and the open-source Signal Protocol (a collection of procedures that dictate how data should be exchanged between apps or computers). These features allow users to privately send voice chats and messages. Aside from keeping hackers and advertisers away, Signal refuses to divulge private information about its users, even when presented with a warrant from government agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

A few of Signal’s top features include:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Screenshot blocker
  • Disappearing messages
  • Single-view media
  • Incognito keyboard
  • Rich media
Pros Cons
  • User-friendly
  • Committed to privacy
  • Strong encryption technology
  • Requires a phone number for sign-up
  • Intermittent message delivery issues

2. Session

Price: Free
Available on: Android, APK, F-Droid, iOS, Linux, and Windows

Screenshot showing conversations between users on the Session app.

Session is an encrypted messaging app that some businesses use as an alternative to Zoom to host private work meetings. The tool protects communications sent on mobile devices and computers. It also leverages onion routing to provide an extra layer of protection. Session also promises that they won’t—and can’t—collect metadata, which includes private information like your IP address.

Here are a few features of the platform:

  • Group chats
  • Voice messages
  • Secure file sharing
Pros Cons
  • No phone number or email address necessary for sign-up
  • Doesn’t collect geolocation or metadata
  • Collaboration features enable work use cases
  • Responsive UI
  • Group voice and video calls are currently unavailable
  • Requires users to verify the identity of the person they’re speaking with on another platform
  • Resource-intensive on low specification devices

3. WhatsApp

Price: Free
Available on: Android and iOS

Screenshot showing encrypted communication capabilities on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is a secure messaging solution for individuals and businesses. The messaging tool is known for helping users circumvent international messaging fees and is secure. Even with a subpoena or warrant, law enforcement can only access limited user information such as subscription details, blocked users, and in-app contacts—but no messaging data. However, Meta does own the app, so just be aware that WhatsApp may share your data with Facebook.

Here are a few features WhatsApp offers:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Chat lock
  • Disappearing messages
  • Spam and unknown caller silencer
  • Encrypted backups on iCloud and Google Drive
  • Advanced privacy controls
Pros Cons
  • WhatsApp for business is designed with professional communications in mind
  • Many people already use the app
  • Doesn’t require cell service
  • Shares data with Meta companies
  • Experiences delays and crashes
  • Requires phone number

4. Telegram

Price: Free
Available on: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows

A screenshot showing the desktop view of secure messaging platform, Telegram.

Telegram is an instant messaging app that allows users to sync conversation data across devices. Users have access to group chat capabilities and the option to form digital communities. However, it only secures “secret chats” with E2EE, so avoid posting sensitive content in public channels. Regardless, the government can’t review messages sent on the platform and can only access a user’s IP address and phone number with a warrant.

Some of Telegram’s features include:

  • Live streaming
  • File sharing
  • Video calls
  • Voice chats
  • Secret chats
  • Rich media
Pros Cons
  • Allows users to create group chats with up to 200,000 people
  • Enables users to make channels to stream to audiences of any size
  • Large storage capacity
  • Spam messages often get through to users
  • Several unmonitored channels

5. Wire

Price: Talk to sales
Available on: Android, iOS, Mac, and PC

Screenshot showing how the Wire secure messaging platform looks on mobile and desktop.

Wire is a secure messaging app that businesses and governments worldwide use to communicate. The messaging service has its own encryption protocol—Proteus—which is based on Signal’s. It doesn’t just encrypt messages but also videos, audio communications, and file transfers.

Here are a few features Wire offers:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Self-deleting messages
  • Authentication settings
  • Team management
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
Pros Cons
  • Data sovereignty
  • Clean user experience (UX)
  • Advanced security measures
  • Limited integrations
  • Slow data syncing
  • Occasional messaging glitches

6. AWS Wickr

Price: Talk to sales
Available on: Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, web, and Windows

A screenshot of the AWS Wickr secure messaging platform.

AWS Wickr (formerly Wickr Me) is a private messaging app designed for businesses, government agencies, the military, and individuals who value online privacy. Acquired by Amazon Web Services in 2021, the platform enables collaboration and automated workflows, and it protects users by preventing the government from accessing message data. However, they may be legally required to disclose the time and date the account was created and last accessed, the total number of messages you sent and received, your avatar, and what version of the app you’re using.

Here are some of Wickr’s top features:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Group messaging
  • Teleconferencing
  • File sharing
  • Message expiration timers
  • User management
  • Advanced security measures
Pros Cons
  • Zero trust platform design
  • Enterprise integrations
  • Easy to manage high volumes on incoming messages
  • Less user-friendly than others
  • Long load times
  • Few options for personalization

7. Threema

Price: Starts at $4.99
Available on: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows

A screenshot showing a conversation between users on the Threema secure messaging platform.

Threema offers secure messaging apps for individuals and businesses. The Threema model allows individual users to pay a one-time fee to gain lifetime access to encrypted messaging. Businesses can choose between one of three price tiers Threema offers, starting at $14.99 per user annually. Regardless of the platform or package you select, Threema doesn’t disclose message content under any circumstances. However, they may disclose the user-provided email address or phone number under certain circumstances.

Here are a few features and capabilities of Threema to consider:

  • Anonymous chat
  • Voice and video calls
  • Automation and integration
  • Web client and desktop app
  • Polls
  • Group chats
Pros Cons
  • Open source with regular security audits
  • GDPR-compliant
  • No ads or data collection
  • Limited integrations

Price: Free
Available on: iOS and Android

A screenshot showing a secure chat thread between SimpleX Chat users.

SimpleX is an encrypted messaging app that takes a fresh approach to user privacy. Instead of relying on user IDs or randomly generated numbers, the platform assigns users short-term, anonymous identifiers. By doing away with long-term identification, the app prevents metadata links and further enhances user privacy without hindering connectivity.

Here are some features SimpleX chat offers:

  • E2EE messages
  • Decentralized secret groups
  • Disappearing messages
  • Incognito mode
  • Message reactions
  • Voice messages
  • GIFs and stickers
Pros Cons
  • Excels in anonymity
  • Intuitive and user-friendly platform
  • Good audio call performance
  • Push notifications arrive slowly
  • Occasional app glitches

Price: Starts at $5 per user/month
Available on: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, web, and Windows

Screenshot of the desktop and mobile app. (formerly Riot) is a messaging app built for secure business collaboration. The platform also has mobile or desktop applications available for download. Element utilizes end-to-end encryption per the industry standard, but unlike many other solutions, the app can integrate with popular messaging systems like Signal and Slack. offers several useful features, such as:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Decentralized data
  • Group chat rooms
  • Device verification
  • Voice and video calls
  • Compliance audits and reports
  • Polls
  • Location sharing
Pros Cons
  • User-friendly
  • Open-source software
  • Full-featured dashboard
  • Large file
  • Poor internet connection triggers bugs

10. Dust

Price: Free
Available on: iOS and Android

Screenshot showing the Dust secure messaging platform.

Dust combines security, authentication, and encryption technologies to protect user messages. The platform also safeguards user privacy by masking usernames, enabling users to delete messages they sent to others, and alerting them to data breaches and screenshots.

Here are a few features Dust offers:

  • Encrypted Messenger
  • Watchdog
  • Stealth Search
  • Does not collect data
  • Data breach and screenshot alerts
Pros Cons
  • Secure alternative to Snapchat
  • Useful for social networking
  • Alerts users to screenshots
  • Doesn’t disclose security measures
  • Doesn’t prevent screenshots
  • Requires phone number or email

11. LINE

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, macOS, iPadOs, watchOs, and Android

Screenshot showing secure chats between LINE users.

LINE is a secure messaging platform born out of the need for alternative messaging during disasters. However, it’s not a basic E2EE communication solution—it levels up the user experience with videos (similar to TikTok), a digital wallet (like Apple Pay), rich media, and forums that allow users to meet people with similar interests.

Here are a few distinctive features Line offers:

  • Stickers and emojis
  • Digital wallet
  • Chat forum
  • Voice, text, and video calls
  • Video sharing
Pros Cons
  • Features are unique within the secure messaging space
  • Less commonly used outside of Asia
  • Users must opt into encryption
  • Account transfers delete content

12. Silence

Price: Free
Available on: Android

A screenshot showing the Silence secure messaging app.

Silence (formerly SMSSecure) is a worthwhile secure messaging option but users can only use its encryption feature if both the sender and recipient install the app on their devices. Otherwise, it will perform as a standard SMS/MMS messaging platform. Inconveniently, it is unavailable for iOS because Apple only allows messaging apps that use the internet when downloading.

Still, the platform comes with useful features, such as:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Text and multimedia messaging
  • Internet-free communication
Pros Cons
  • Open source
  • Reliable encryption
  • Only available for Android
  • Only maintained by contributors so updates can be slow
  • Less convenient than online options

Cybersecurity tips for keeping messages secure

Secure messaging services can do a lot to protect your data and communications—but even they are limited. To effectively eliminate the possibility of cybersecurity attacks, follow these best practices:

  • Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks: Public Wi-Fi is usually unsecured, which means your device and the messages on it will be more vulnerable to hackers while you’re connected. So, if you do need to connect to public Wi-Fi, be sure to protect your session with a VPN to keep your internet connection private.
  • Verify people’s identity before talking to them: This ensures you’re sending confidential information only to the intended recipient.
  • Use two-factor authentication: 2FA prevents cybercriminals from logging into your messaging app since it’s more difficult for them to access your authenticator app or the verification code sent to your phone.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links: Suspicious links are often part of a phishing scheme to download malware to your device, which can help hackers access your personal information.
  • Enable self-destructing messages: Disappearing messages stop unauthorized users from seeing the messages you send.
  • Report suspicious activity: If you suspect someone has hacked your phone, device or account, immediately report it to the vendor or local law enforcement.
  • Protect your device with security software: Use security software to detect threats early and keep your messages secure. For example, strong security software like Norton 360 Deluxe can help lock down your device with a VPN that works to keep your communications safe from hackers.

When used together, these best practices can ensure your messages stay private.

Secure all your online communications

Don’t hide from attackers, repel them. The best way to protect your messages is to prevent hackers from accessing your device at all. To do this, try enhancing your device’s security with Norton 360 Deluxe. With an array of features and capabilities, Norton 360 Deluxes provides layers of protection to shield you from hackers and a built-in VPN to encrypt the information you send and receive online, regardless of what messaging app you use.

FAQs about secure messaging

Now that you’re familiar with your secure messaging app options, let’s get into some frequently asked questions.

How does end-to-end encryption work?

End-to-end encryption guarantees that no one will intercept your message while it's in transit. Encrypted apps accomplish this by encrypting data on the sender’s device and decrypting it only when it reaches the intended recipient.

Can the government surveil secure messaging apps?

The US government can’t surveil secure messages without justification.

To do this, they would need legal authorization for a search warrant or court-ordered surveillance. This is typically granted when there is a serious concern about threats such as terrorism and espionage. However, the average user who wants more privacy but isn’t participating in illegal activities has no reason to fear or expect government surveillance.

What are the requirements for secure messaging apps in healthcare?

Secure messaging for healthcare is essential, and all communications are regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to get patient consent and use a messaging app vendor that will:

  • Enable patients to consent
  • Encrypt patient data and communications
  • Sign a business associate agreement (BAA)

As a rule, SMS text messages are not HIPAA-compliant unless they are customized to include necessary safeguards. 

Clare Stouffer
  • Clare Stouffer
  • Gen employee
Clare Stouffer, a Gen employee, is a writer and editor for the company’s blogs. She covers various topics in cybersecurity.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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