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Journalism in the Public Interest

The Best Secure Messaging Tools

This is a ranking of encrypted messaging programs based on criteria aimed to assess whether they are well designed to make the content of the messages unreadable to anybody other than the sender and recipient. Keep in mind, even messages that are securely encrypted often do not obscure the identities of the sender and recipient. | Related article »

Name Encrypted in transit? Encrypted so the provider can’t read it? Can you verify contacts’ identities? Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen? Is the code open to independent review? Is security design properly documented? Has the code been audited? Score
AIM Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

CryptoCat Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Facebook chat Yes No No No No No Yes 2

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Google Hangouts/Chat "off the record" Yes No No No No No Yes 2

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: Yes

iMessage Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Jitsi + Ostel Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 6

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Off-The-Record Messaging for Mac (Adium) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 6

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Off-The-Record Messaging for Windows (Pidgin) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 6

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Skype Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

SnapChat Yes No No No No No Yes 2

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: Yes

TextSecure Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

WhatsApp Yes No No No No No Yes 2

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: Yes

BlackBerry Messenger Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

BlackBerry Protected Yes Yes No No No Yes No 3

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

ChatSecure + Orbot Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Ebuddy XMS Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

FaceTime Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Hushmail Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

iPGMail Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No 4

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Kik Messenger Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

Mailvelope Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes 6

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Mxit No No No No No No No 0

Encrypted in transit?: No

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

PGP for Mac (GPGTools) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

PGP for Windows Gpg4win Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

QQ No No No No No No No 0

Encrypted in transit?: No

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

RetroShare Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 6

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Secret Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

StartMail Yes No Yes No No Yes No 3

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Subrosa Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes 6

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

SureSpot Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Telegram Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Threema Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No 5

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: No

Viber Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

Virtru Yes No No No No Yes Yes 3

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Wickr Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes 4

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Yahoo! Messenger Yes No No No No No No 1

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: No

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: No

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: No

Is the code open to independent review?: No

Is security design properly documented?: No

Has the code been audited?: No

Signal / RedPhone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Silent Text Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Silent Phone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7

Encrypted in transit?: Yes

Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?: Yes

Can you verify contacts’ identities?: Yes

Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen?: Yes

Is the code open to independent review?: Yes

Is security design properly documented?: Yes

Has the code been audited?: Yes

Source: Research by Electronic Frontier Foundation, ProPublica, and Joseph Bonneau