Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Privacy-Focused Messaging Apps

Thanks to its more than 1 billion users from 180 countries, WhatsApp has become the world’s favourite messaging app.

The 2014 purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook left privacy advocates and safety-conscious users concerned. Facebook and its third party applications, after all, were involved in numerous security breaches, leading to the leakage of thousands of private details from users.

WhatsApp has always maintained that it is a separate app dedicated to the creation and maintenance of a secure messaging service. But with the new popping notification, WhatsApp is asking its users to accept the changes in its terms and policies by February 8, 2021 or their accounts will be deleted.

As per the new privacy policy, the data which WhatsApp will be sharing with Facebook includes your mobile number, your basic information used to create your WhatsApp account, the information about the features you use on WhatsApp, your profile picture, and your ‘about’ information. It also collects details at the system level, such as what device you use, your mobile network, IP address, and others. It even gathers and uses reliable location data with your permission, from your smartphone.

WhatsApp also reiterated that it encrypts all messages end-to-end. This suggests that the messages can not be opened or read by either WhatsApp or third parties.

In short, this means while your messages are probably secure, but WhatApp will store other user data on its private servers. So, the company can later use this information for marketing purposes.

Moreover, in the “out-of-ordinary” event, the data stored on their servers can be given to the government. Hackers may also be able to hack into WhatsApp servers and access users’ phone numbers and account data.

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Privacy-Focused Messaging Apps

Signal

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Privacy-Focused Messaging Apps

Signal is a free-to-use app, has a strong encryption, and works on iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS. Like an ideal messenger, Signal is easy to use. It also has voice and video call features so you won’t miss WhatsApp.

Signal has no animated emojis. But you can import your device’s emojis into the app.

Signal Security Features

  • End-to-end encryption

Messages sent using the Signal app can only be viewed by the sender and the receiver. Even the company behind the app, Open Whisper Systems, can’t decrypt the messages. In addition to text messages, the app also provides encrypted voice calls and video calls.

  • Open Source 

Signal has an open source code that everyone can view. This form of transparency makes regular auditing possible and helps to ensure that the security of the app is still up to date.

  • Disappearing Messages

For additional privacy, Signal allows both the sent and received messages to get deleted after a chosen amount of time has elapsed.

  • Minimal Data Storage

Signal only stores the metadata needed for the app to function, such as your phone number, random keys, and profile information.

  • Password security

Signal also allows the user to set a password on the app. It protects your messages even if your phone gets into wrong hands.

Wickr 

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Wickr

Wickr, available on all major platforms, has distinguished itself from the pack by providing secure messaging solutions for private use (Wickr Me) as well as for businesses and corporations (Wickr Pro). Wickr Pro is a paid service that comes with a 30-day free trial, even though Wickr Me is free.

Wickr Security Features

  • End-to-end encryption

Wickr is protected by authenticated 256-bit end-to-end encryption. The communication is locally stored on the users’ device. Even Wickr doesn’t have decryption keys, which makes the communication entirely personal and safe.

  • Perfect Forward Secrecy and Post Compromise Security

A new random key encrypts every call, message, and file. It would take trillions of years to crack only one key, and with a new key for each piece of communication, the data is completely secured.

  • Zero Trust Platform Design

Even in the case of a breach, Wickr servers don’t leak user communications. They are undecipherable in transit and deleted upon delivery.

  • Secure Shredder

This function provides an additional layer of protection by ensuring that your already deleted files cannot be recovered with special software or technology. Although Wickr regularly does this for you, you still have the option to remove information from your phone manually.

  • Open Source

Wickr has an open source code that everyone can view. This makes regular auditing possible and helps to ensure that the security of the app bugs-free.

  • Bonus Security features

Multi-factor authentication, account takeover protection, device encryption at rest, client network traffic obfuscation, secure link previews, message revoke, user blocking, screenshot detection, overlay protection, and User Key Verification.

iMessage

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: iMessage

The instant messaging service developed by Apple Inc., iMessage is supported in all iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS and MacOS devices. iMessage is very common among Apple users, enabling users to send text, documents, images, contact information, and group messages.

Note: iMessage can only be used in the Apple Ecosystem.

iMessage Security Features

  • End-to-end Encryption

End-to-end encryption only secures messages between iPhone users (which appear in blue). For example, if you send a message to an Android user, the message will be sent as a regular text message (in green) and will not be encrypted.

It seems like Apple won’t be coming out with iMessage for Android. While iMessage does not allow video or voice calls directly, FaceTime, its sister app, does (with encrypted protection).

  • Self-destructing messages

Many users of iMessage are unaware that the app offers a function that allows you to control how long each image, video, or message will appear, before it’s gone. You can also pick how many times the message can be displayed by the viewer.

  • iMessages deleted from servers

Your encrypted messages stays only for 7 days on Apple’s servers before they get deleted.

  • iMessage Apps

iMessage apps, which allow you to share stickers, songs and more without leaving iMessage, do not have access to the actual contact details or conversations of participants. For each participant, Apple provides each app with a random identifier which is reset when the app is uninstalled.

  • Facetime

Your FaceTime and Group FaceTime calls are not stored by Apple on its servers. And during transit, with end-to-end encryption, these calls are secured.

Threema

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Threema

Threema guarantees complete privacy. Your contact lists and group data are stored on your phone only, not in the app. In addition, instead of a phone number, you can connect to individuals using an 8-digit Threema ID, further protecting your privacy. 

You can safely use Threema in your web browser. The app provides formatting features, as well as sending locations and files, much like WhatsApp. But unlike WhatsApp, users can create polls and leave “like” feedback on individual messages. You can also hide and password-protect individual chats.

Threema is based in Switzerland, which is known for its pro-privacy laws.

Threema Security Features

  • End-to-end encryption

All types of communication are end-to-end encrypted. This is to ensure that every form of message, including group messages, photos/videos, files, voice calls and even status messages, is shielded from eavesdropping. 

  • Metadata restraint

Threema is designed to create as little data as theoretically possible on servers. Groups and contact lists are handled exclusively on the devices of the users, not on the server, messages are automatically removed upon delivery, no log files are generated, and no personal identifiable information is collected.

  • Open Source

Threema has an open source code that everyone can view. This form of transparency makes regular auditing possible and helps to ensure that the security of the app is still up to date.

  • Anonymous use

In order to use Threema, it is not mandatory to have a phone number or email address. Each user creates a Threema ID when setting up the app, which serves as a unique identifier. As this ID is a random character sequence, it is possible to use Threema anonymously. No central account of the user is established.

  • Optional contact synchronization

Without getting access to your address book, Threema can be used. If you grant access to an address book to retrieve the Threema IDs of your contacts, the contact information will be transmitted in one-way encrypted form and will not be stored on the server.

  • Password security

Threema also allows the user to set a password or biometrics on the app. It protects your messages even if your phone gets into wrong hands.

Session

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Privacy-Focused Messaging Apps

Session is an end-to-end encrypted messenger designed and built for people who want absolute privacy and freedom from any form of surveillance, that minimises sensitive metadata.

The normal chat features are mastered by Session. Voice messages, a GIF search (with privacy warning), sharing of files and group chats are also available. By scanning the QR code or exchanging the session ID, you can add new contacts.

Session Security Features

  • End-to-end encryption

All types of communication are end-to-end encrypted. This is to suggest that every form of message, including group messages, photos/videos, files, voice calls and even status messages, is shielded from any unwanted interceptor. 

  • Anonymous use

In order to use Session, it is not mandatory to have a phone number or email address.

  • No data breaches

No geolocation data, device data, or metadata is collected. So there’s no concern about data leakage.

  • Open Source

Session has an open source code that everyone can view. This form of transparency makes regular auditing possible.

  • No footprints

Session uses its own onion routing network hence, it leaves no trace. 

Wire

Best WhatsApp Alternatives: Wire

Wire is focused on European data retention laws. Wire features end-to-end encryption. Wire offers free personal accounts, and paid business accounts with additional support and features. 

Both 1:1 and group screen sharing are provided by Wire. It also supports file sharing and audio filtering. Accessible for all major platforms, eight synced devices can be used to log in to your account.

You can use bold and italics to format text, and create lists within chats. For easy sharing, you’ll also be able to optimise file sizes and set timers to delete messages for added privacy.

Wire Security Features

  • End-to-end encryption

All communication through Wire is secured with end-to-end encryption — messages, conference calls, files. All communication is end-to-end encrypted on all the 8 devices used.

  • Independently Audited

Wire is the most extensively publicly audited collaboration and communication software on the market.

  • Trusted Conversations

You can check the identity of your conversation partner through his biometric authentication for maximum security.

  • Forward and backward secrecy

New encryption keys are used for each message, so a compromised key has minimal impact.

  • Open Source

Wire has an open source code that everyone can view. This form of transparency makes regular auditing possible and helps to ensure that the app remains in perfect working condition.

You may want to abandon WhatsApp and find an alternative if you want to make sure your private messages stay private. The above mentioned apps are suggested for their superior security features.

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