Telegram is a free-to-use instant messaging app that was founded in 2013 and has since then accumulated over 500 million monthly active users, making it one of the world’s top ten most downloaded apps. Telegram allows you to create massive group chats, sync data across multiple devices, set up bots, and send or receive large files, which is why it frames itself as the perfect app for collaboration and building communities.
Despite its functionality, ease of use, and impressive selection of features, Telegram has met with its fair share of criticism over the years. You may think that this app is highly secure due to its ‘secret chats’ and self-destructing messages, but there are unfortunately many issues that have arisen regarding the privacy and security of Telegram users. Several oversights have led to millions of users being exposed to cyber threats and having their funds stolen, sensitive information leaked, and devices being infected with malware.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of instant messaging but still want to stay protected against security risks and have your privacy protected, then you may want to seek out an alternative app. Keep reading to find out the most secure Telegram alternatives in 2022!
The most secure Telegram alternatives quick guide
- WhatsApp – Best for end-to-end encryption
- Signal – Self-destructing message technology
- Wire – For secure collaboration
Why you may want to choose an alternative messaging app to Telegram
Although Telegram has positioned itself as a secure and privacy-focused messaging app, it may not be your safest option. The app has experienced several security breaches over the past few years and has been criticised for not adequately protecting its users. Here are a few reasons why you may consider finding an alternative messaging app to Telegram –
- Your messages aren’t automatically secured by end-to-end encryption
Much criticism of Telegram revolves around the fact that end-to-end encryption is off by default and has to be manually enabled by users through the Secret Chat option. Additionally, the app does not provide end-to-end encryption for group chats. End-to-end encryption is incredibly important as it prevents anyone, even the messaging app, from reading your conversations except for yourself and the person (or people) you’re communicating with. Not having this automatically enabled can mean thousands, even millions, of users have their private conversations exposed to Telegram, hackers, and other unwanted third parties.
- Your user data is being collected and stored
- The app is a target for cybercriminals
Telegram has been known to be targeted by hackers primarily due to its poor security settings, slow response to illegal activities, and low entry barrier. Since users only need a phone number to join the messaging app, Telegram is easily accessible for hackers to share and discuss data dumps to dedicated hacking group chats. Additionally, Telegram’s bot platform allows hackers to automate their malicious activities such as deploying malware, performing social engineering attacks, and spreading phishing attempts.
One notable example is the notorious SMSRanger bot which reportedly sends automatic messages to Telegram users, allegedly on behalf of a bank or an online payment system such as PayPal. The message will prompt users to send account information and OTP (One Time Password) codes so hackers can bypass verification systems to withdraw funds from the victim’s account. The main issue with Telegram bots is that, due to their accessibility they allow even inexperienced and unskilled cybercriminals to successfully target users to spread malware or steal funds.
Our top recommended most secure Telegram alternatives in 2022
The best instant messaging alternatives to telegram will have end-to-end encryption for all chats, so you won’t have to worry about hackers spying on your conversations. Ideally, a secure instant messaging app will be open source as this allows anyone to check the source code for any vulnerabilities. Other features that you can enjoy include group chats, voice/video calls, and file sharing.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular instant messaging apps in the world with over 2 billion active users worldwide. Not only is WhatsApp rich with features and easy to use, but it’s also incredibly secure and is constantly being fine-tuned to ensure optimal security and privacy for its users.
All conversations have end-to-end encryption by default and the app even has an indicator that informs users that their chats are, in fact, fully encrypted. Even group chats, which can consist of up to 256 members, have end-to-end encryption. Users can also verify that their conversations are encrypted by scanning a 60-digit verification/QR code which can be found in their chat settings menu.
WhatsApp makes it simple to customise your privacy and security with features such as two-step verification, face ID/fingerprint lock, and read receipts. All users have a status and profile photo but both of these can be set to private. Additionally, this app has a ‘disappearing messages’ feature which can be enabled to automatically set messages to disappear 24 hours, 7 days, or 90 days after they have been sent.
Putting security and privacy aside, there’s no doubt that WhatsApp is one of the easiest and most reliable instant messaging apps. This app has a ton of fantastic features that makes communicating with friends, family members, and colleagues streamlined and hassle-free. As well as chatting through instant messages, you can also record voice messages, send files up to 100 MB, and even share your location with contacts. The app also doubles as a VoIP service and allows you to make secure voice and video calls with up to 8 people for free.
Signal is a free privacy-protecting instant messaging app that goes above and beyond to ensure security for its users. This app has built a strong reputation for being dependable and trustworthy, which is why it’s a fantastic alternative to Telegram.
As Signal states, “privacy isn’t an optional mode”, so end-to-end encryption is enabled on the app by default for all messages and calls, and cannot be disabled. This encryption is powered by the Signal Protocol which is so secure that it’s even being used by other instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Additionally, the app provides a self-destructing messages feature that allows users to choose a custom time of up to 4 weeks that starts as soon as any message is sent and automatically deletes it once the timer reaches zero.
As this company is an independent non-profit, it is fully supported by grants and donations so you won’t be dealing with any ads or trackers whatsoever when using the app. Signal is also open source, so its code can be checked by anyone to look for, detect, and fix any security issues.
Although the app is focused on security and privacy, Signal still makes an effort to be user-friendly and feature-rich. You can share voice messages, photos, videos, stickers, GIFs, and files, in addition to making crystal-clear voice and video calls. Users can also participate in group calls with up to 40 people. Other notable features that will make your instant messaging fun and personalised include a dark mode, custom themes, built-in imaging editing, and custom alerts for each of your contacts.
Wire is a reliable, open source messaging app that focuses on collaboration and aims to appeal to business users. If you’re looking for top-notch security and privacy when participating in group chats and video conferences, then Wire is likely your best secure alternative to Telegram.
All messages are protected with end-to-end encryption by default and the app uses its own Proteus encryption protocol which is based on the Signal Protocol. Wire is fully open source and its Android and iOS apps have been publicly audited by Kudelski Security and X-41 D-Sec with a focus on privacy and security. Wire has three plans available – Wire for Free, Wire For Enterprises, and Wire for Governments.
This business-focused messaging app has an impressive selection of features that will make communicating with colleagues not only safe but also exceptionally streamlined and efficient. The app allows for voice calls with up to 100 users and video calls with up to 50 users. During conferences, participants can share their screens and moderators can soft mute participants if needed for a much smoother and undisruptive experience.
Wire also makes it easy to organise and add participants by seamlessly integrating with Outlook and Google Calendar, allowing the services to automatically add users based on conference invitations. In all chats, users can share video, photo, and audio files which are also encrypted. Users can even share their locations, set self-deleting messages, and invite other Wire users to collaborate through guest rooms.