WhatsApp being the largest messaging service in the world, followed by Telegram has raised security concerns following its latest terms and policy updates.
The buzz about switching to other apps like Telegram and Signal has already surfaced the internet with Elon Musk tweeting “Use Signal” leading most netizens to sign up for Signal app.
Signal comes off as one of the most private messaging apps that doesn’t collect any user data.
Below we have done a comprehensive comparison of WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal, their security and features.
|E2E encryption||Yes||Only for ‘Secret Chats’ and calls||Yes|
|Advertisements||No||No, plans to add||No|
|Group Chat Security||Yes||No||Yes|
|Video and voice calls||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Chat Backup||Yes, stored on Google drive or iCloud||Yes, stored on Telegram’s cloud||No, stored on device|
With almost every feature one might need, WhatsApp supports group chats with up to 256 members. With features like voice and video calls to both individuals and groups, WhatsApp even offers the option to broadcast messages to multiple contacts at the same time. The status feature available similar to Instagram stories.
WhatsApp even allows users to share all sorts of files and documents as long as users adhere to file sizes. The limit for photos, videos and audio files is 16MB, documents up to 100MB can be sent. Feature such as sharing live location with your contacts come in handy.
WhatsApp offers seamless backup and restore functionality through cloud services.
The end-to-end encryption, introduced on WhatsApp in 2016, is available on every single mode of communication the app enables. WhatsApp uses E2E protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems, the very name behind Signal.
WhatsApp doesn’t encrypt backups nor the metadata which is used to carry communication between two points. This being one of the major criticisms of WhatsApp’s security model.
Telegram falls more on the lightweight messaging app spectrum. The basics like chats, group chat and channels are available in this app. Telegram allows groups up to 2,000 members unlike WhatsApp. It even offers multiple-group specifics such as bots, polls, quizzes, hashtags and a lot more.
Telegram offers a very unique feature of self-destructing messages, similar to Snapchat if you don’t want the messages to remain on the recipient’s phone for long. One can share up to files with 1.5GB data on Telegram.
It even has voice and video call feature on Android and iOS devices.
Telegram offers end-to-end encryption but is not enabled by default. Using secret chats is the only way to use E2E encryption on Telegram. Telegram mentions that it manages its message stories and decryption keys in a manner that court orders would be necessary to access one’s data.
Telegram even claims that it has not shared any data with third parties and government to this date. We can infer that telegram groups are not encrypted as secret chats are only supported for single-use communication.
As mentioned earlier, Signal offers secure messaging, voice and video calls. The communications here are actually end-to-end encrypted. Users can create group, although the app lacks the option of Broadcast messages to multiple contacts at the same time.
Feature such as self destructing messages similar to Telegram is available on Signal. One thing that sets Signal apart from other apps is the “Note to Self” feature where you don’t have to create a single member group to send notes to yourself.
Signal allows to relay voice calls to its servers so your identity remains hidden from the contacts. The feature is similar to VPN.
Signal uses the open-source Signal Protocol to implement E2E encryption, making it the best messaging app when it comes to security.
Signal encrypts your metadata too. Signal has devised a new way to communicate between the sender and the recipient, called Sealed Sender. With Sealed Sender, no one will know who is texting whom, even Signal itself wont know.
The local files in Signal by default encrypt with a 4 digit passphrase. The app even allows you to create an encrypted local back up and even supports encrypted group calls.