Managing your email inbox is an important part of running a business, but email exchanges can be slow and fragmented. For quick and easy communication, instant messaging is more convenient than email, and more secure than SMS text messaging — at least if you have the right app. A secure messaging application will let you safely exchange private information with employees, clients and co-workers, without worrying that your data could be compromised.
But what does it mean for messaging to be secure? Usually, it means that your messages are encrypted before they even leave your device. Encrypted messages can't be read by anyone other than the intended recipient, even if they're intercepted during the exchange. Some apps even offer self-destruct functionality, letting you send messages that are automatically deleted after they're read. No messaging app is totally foolproof, but business users with privacy concerns would be wise to check out these five secure messengers for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices.
1. Signal Private Messenger (Free) – Android, iOS
Secure, free and easy to use, Signal Private Messenger (available on iOS and Android) is our favorite secure texting app overall. The app features end-to-end encryption to keep all of your private correspondences secure. And while it’s simpler than some of the other options on this list, it has plenty of features that power users will appreciate. That includes the ability to set up encrypted groups for private conversations with your entire work team. And while most secure messaging apps require both parties to be using the same application for encryption to work, Signal Private Messenger sets itself apart by working with standard SMS text messages, as well as SMS picture messages. That means business users can use the app to add an extra layer of security to regular texting, even if the client or colleague you're messaging isn't on board.
2. ChatSecure (Free) – Android, iOS
The aptly-named ChatSecure is one of the most secure messaging services around. The app uses open-source, publicly auditable encryption libraries to keep your private business messages private. It’s really flexible, letting you choose between connecting via your existing Google account, or creating a new account on a public XMPP server. Users who want even stronger security can connect to ChatSecure from their own private server. And unlike with many rival apps, ChatSecure doesn’t require your phone number of any other personal data to get started.
3. Gliph (Free) – Android, iOS
Gliph is a secure messaging service that you can use on all of your computing devices. When you're on the go, use the iOS or Android app on your smartphone. When you're at the office, use the Gliph desktop app so you can send and receive messages using a mouse and keyboard. Another key feature is "Real Delete," which lets you permanently delete a message from both the sending and receiving device, as well as the Gliph server, whenever you choose. You can also attach a pseudonym to your main account at any time, so you can use a screen name for personal chatting and switch back to your real name for professional communications.
4. Wickr (Free) – Android, iOS
Wickr (available for Android and iOS) is a secure messaging app that lets you set an "expiration date" for every message you send; just select a date and time for your media to expire, and it will automatically be deleted at that time. That way, you don't have to worry about a third party inadvertently reading private communications that are left on a contact's smartphone. Meanwhile, the app features end-to-end encryption for all messages, and it lets you remove metadata from individual messages, such as the time it was sent, as well as geo-location data. Another handy feature gives you the ability to completely clear away message files that have been manually deleted but still reside on your smartphone's memory. Wickr also has standard messaging features, like the ability to chat with groups of up to 10 people at once.
Silent Phone ($9.95/month) – Android, iOS
Silent Phone (available for Android and iOS) is a secure messaging service that encrypts video and voice calls, in addition to standard text message encryption. Messages sent through Silent Phone can only be read by the intended recipient, and they’re securely deleted after they’re read. Silent Phone also allows for secure file transfers. And only subscribers – not the developer – hold Silent Phone encryption keys, which ensures that not even the company can't access your data.