Digital communication has become an integral part of our personal and professional lives. However, with the increasing reliance on technology for communication, the need for secure messaging platforms has also become more important than ever before. Open source messaging platforms offer a secure and reliable way to communicate without compromising on privacy. These platforms are developed by a community of developers who work together to create secure messaging solutions that are free to use and can be customized to meet the specific needs of individuals and organizations. In the following we will explore some of the benefits of open-source messaging software and then highlight the top seven open source messaging platforms that offer secure communication, discussing their features, benefits, and drawbacks.
Secure communication is vital for messaging platforms because it ensures that the information being transmitted is protected from unauthorized access, interception, and theft. With the increasing reliance on digital communication, there is a growing risk of cyberattacks, identity theft, and privacy breaches, making secure communication more important than ever. By using secure messaging platforms, individuals and organizations can protect sensitive information such as financial data, trade secrets, confidential customer information, and personal communications from unauthorized access.
Learn more about: What is secure messaging?
Secure messaging platforms offer several benefits, including:
Privacy: Secure messaging platforms use end-to-end encryption, which ensures that only the intended recipient can read the message, and not even the messaging platform provider can access the content of the message.
Confidentiality: Messaging platforms with robust security features ensure that sensitive data and communications are kept confidential and secure, reducing the risk of data breaches, cyberattacks, and other security threats.
Authentication: Secure messaging platforms provide a way to authenticate users and devices, ensuring that only authorized users can access the messaging platform.
Trust: Using a secure messaging platform helps to build trust between users, as it provides assurance that their communications are secure and protected.
Compliance: In several industries, such as Healthcare and Finance, there are regulatory requirements in place to ensure confidential data is protected. These industries are required to use secure messaging platforms that are HIPAA (for healthcare) or Finra (for finance) compliant.
Open source software is software that is developed collaboratively and made available to the public under an open source license. This form of software is designed to be freely accessible to everyone, enabling individuals and organizations to modify, improve, and distribute the software without restriction.
In the context of messaging platforms, open source software offers secure, customizable, and reliable communication tools that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of users. These platforms provide a range of features, such as end-to-end encryption, multi-device support, file sharing, and group messaging, while ensuring user privacy and data security.
Open source messaging platforms are often used by individuals, businesses, and organizations that require a secure communication platform without having to pay for expensive proprietary software licenses.
But with so many well-established proprietary messaging platforms on the markets, such as WhatApp, Telegram, or Slack for example, why would an organization choose to go the open source route? Let’s look in a little more detail of some of the benefits of open source messaging software.
Cost-effective: Perhaps one of the key benefits to this type of software license in the cost. Open source messaging software is often free or available at a much lower cost compared to proprietary messaging software, making it a more affordable option for individuals and organizations.
Customizable: For the most part, open source messaging software provides a range of features and functionality that can be customized to meet the specific needs of individuals and organizations. By the nature of the license, developers are able to modify, improve, and distribute the software without restriction.
Secure: Recent news stories involving WhatApp and Telegram have highlighted concerns about security and confidentiality. By contrast these open source solutions pose less threats. Here’s why. Open source messaging software is developed collaboratively by a community of developers, which means that security vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed quickly. Because open source messaging software is transparent, and users can inspect the source code to ensure that there are no hidden or malicious features.
Community Support: Open source messaging software has an active community of developers, users, and contributors who can provide support, troubleshooting, and updates.
Interoperability: Open source messaging software often uses open standards, making it interoperable with other messaging platforms and enabling users to communicate with others who are using different platforms.
Learn more about: 6 Best Open-Source Healthcare Software Tools to Look Out for in 2023
Now that you know some of the benefits of open source messaging Apps, how do you determine which software to choose? We have devised a criteria below to assess these platforms with.
When evaluating open source messaging platforms for secure communication, several criteria were considered. These criteria were used to select the top 7 open source messaging platforms for secure communication. The criteria used are:
Security: The security of the platform is the most important criterion when evaluating messaging platforms for secure communication. The platform must use end-to-end encryption to ensure that messages cannot be intercepted or read by anyone other than the intended recipient. It should also have additional security features, such as two-factor authentication and self-destructing messages, to provide an extra layer of protection.
Encryption: The platform should use strong encryption protocols to protect the confidentiality and integrity of messages.
User-Friendliness: The platform should be easy to use and navigate, with a user-friendly interface that requires minimal technical knowledge.
Features: The platform should have a range of features such as group messaging, file sharing, voice and video calls, and multi-device support.
Scalability: The platform should be scalable and able to handle high traffic volumes, with minimal downtime or service interruptions.
Cost: The platform should be free or have affordable pricing plans that offer value for money.
Community Support: The platform should have an active community of developers, users, and contributors who can provide support, troubleshooting, and updates.
Learn more about: 10 Most Secure Messaging Apps
By considering these criteria, we were able to identify the top 7 open source messaging platforms for secure communication. These platforms meet the criteria and provide a secure, customizable, and reliable communication platform for users.
Signal is a free and open source messaging app that allows users to send and receive encrypted messages, voice and video calls, and share files and media securely. It was developed by the Signal Foundation and Signal Messenger LLC, and is available for use on iOS, Android, and desktop operating systems.
Security: Signal is considered one of the most secure messaging platforms available. It uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that messages cannot be intercepted or read by anyone other than the intended recipient. Additionally, Signal uses forward secrecy, which means that if an encryption key is compromised, past messages cannot be decrypted.
Encryption: Signal uses the robust encryption protocols, including the Signal Protocol, which is open source and widely respected in the security community.
User-Friendliness: Signal has a user-friendly interface and is easy to use, with minimal technical knowledge required.
Features: Signal offers a range of features, including group messaging, voice and video calls, file sharing, and self-destructing messages. It also supports multi-device use, allowing users to seamlessly switch between devices while maintaining the security of their communications.
Scalability: Signal is scalable and can handle high traffic volumes with minimal downtime or service interruptions.
Cost: Signal is free to use, making it an affordable option for individuals and organizations.
Community Support: Signal has an active community of developers, users, and contributors who provide support, troubleshooting, and updates.
Q-Consultation Lite is an open-source application designed to provide a professional consultation tool for businesses. Unlike other messaging apps, it offers a virtual meeting room set-up so that providers (whether they are a healthcare professional recruiter, sales rep or customer support agent) can chat with multiple participants simultaneously. It can also be embedded into a company’s existing website or app making it very versatile. Q‑Consultation is built by QuickBlox, a leading cloud communication company with expertise in mobile app development.
Security: Q-Consultation Lite is built on the robust QuickBlox Platform. Free to run this source wherever you wish so you maintain control of all data . Can also host the app on the QuickBlox HIPAA cloud, which ensures the app is HIPAA compliant.
Encryption: QuickBlox relies on strong encryption protocols.
User-Friendliness: Q-Consultation benefits from a sleek, intuitive user interface making it easy to use.
Features: The app is packed with features, including instant messaging, peer-to-peer video calling. Unlike many other messaging solutions in this list, it also boasts a virtual room set-up, so that a provider can chat with several participants simultaneously making it an ideal solution to use for healthcare, HR and recruitment, education use cases. It also comes with several administrative features, such as note taking, video call recording, file sharing and more.
Scalability: The app is designed to scale.
Cost: Q-Consultation Lite source code is free to use. There is also a paid plan for a premium version, which offers a fully managed service and additional features, such as an appointment scheduler.
Community Support: Q-Consultation Lite is a relatively new app, so community small is just starting to build up. However, its makers provide detailed documentation, video tutorials and a discord developer community group to provide support.
Learn more about: Announcing the Launch of Q-Consultation Lite! Free, Open Source Software
Briar is a free and open source messaging app designed to provide secure and private communication. It is developed by the Briar Project, a non-profit organization, and is available for use on Android devices. Briar is unique in that it does not rely on central servers or the internet to transmit messages; instead, it uses a peer-to-peer architecture to allow users to communicate directly with one another over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This makes Briar particularly useful for communication in situations where internet access is restricted or unavailable.
Security: Briar is a highly secure messaging platform that uses end-to-end encryption. Additionally, Briar uses the Tor network to protect user anonymity and provides users with the option to use a custom passphrase for added security.
Encryption: Briar uses strong encryption protocols to protect the confidentiality and integrity of messages.
User-Friendliness: With its intuitive interface Briar is easy to use. However, it does have a smaller user base and may require more setup time compared to other messaging platforms.
Features: Briar offers a range of features, including group messaging, file sharing, and voice calls. However, it does not support video calls and may have fewer features compared to other messaging platforms.
Scalability: Briar is designed to be scalable for small to medium-sized groups, with a maximum of around 100 participants in a single conversation. However, it may not be suitable for larger groups or organizations with a significant number of users due to its peer-to-peer architecture.
Cost: Briar is free to use, However, if you choose to use Briar’s optional synchronization feature, you may incur charges for cloud storage services if you exceed the free storage limits provided by the service.
Community Support: Briar has an energetic community of developers and users who contribute to the project in various ways.
Wire is a highly secure and feature-rich open-source code messaging platform that is ideal for individuals and businesses who prioritize privacy and security in their communication. It is developed by Wire Swiss, a company based in Switzerland, and is available for use on desktop and mobile devices.
Security: Wire provides end-to-end encryption to safeguard all communication data, and it has undergone third-party security audits to ensure its security measures are robust. Additionally, Wire offers features such as secure video conferencing and encrypted screen sharing.
Encryption: Wire uses strong encryption protocols, including Proteus, to protect the confidentiality and integrity of messages and other communication data.
User-Friendliness: Wire’s UI is easy to navigate with features such as the ability to pin important conversations to the top of the chat list and mark messages as unread. Additionally, Wire offers cross-platform support for mobile and desktop devices.
Features: Wire offers a range of features, including group messaging, voice and video calls, and the ability to share files and images. Additionally, Wire offers support for bots and integrations with other communication platforms.
Scalability: Wire is highly scalable and can handle large volumes of traffic without downtime or service interruptions.
Cost: Wire offers both free and paid plans, with the paid plans offering additional features such as larger file sharing limits and longer message history.
Community Support: Wire has a growing and active community of users and developers who support and contribute to the app.
Element is a free and open source messaging app built on the Matrix protocol that provides a highly secure and feature-rich communication experience. One of the key advantages of Element is its modern user interface, which emphasizes spaces and communities over traditional chat lists Another key advantage of Element is its interoperability with other messaging platforms that use the Matrix protocol, allowing users to communicate with others across different networks.
Security: The app uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that all messages, calls, and shared files are protected from eavesdropping by unauthorized parties. Additionally, Element offers a variety of security features such as two-factor authentication and secure key exchange to verify the identity of other users.
Encryption: Element Element uses the Olm encryption protocol to provide end-to-end encryption. In addition, Element also provides server-side encryption for data at rest, which means that messages and other data stored on Element’s servers are also encrypted, providing an additional layer of protection for users’ data.
User-friendliness: Element boasts a modern user-friendly interface that prioritizes spaces and communities, making it easy for users to organize and participate in conversations. Its features are presented in a clear and intuitive way.
Features: The app provides a wide range of features, including voice and video calls, text chat and file sharing, screen sharing, virtual meeting rooms, message history synchronization, and read receipts, making it a versatile tool for personal and professional communication needs.
Scalability: Element is also highly scalable, with the ability to support both small and large organizations.
Cost: It is a cost-effective solution, with the basic version of the app being free, and paid options available for users who need additional features or support.
Community Support: Element has a vibrant community of users and developers who provide support, feedback, and contribute to the development of the app. The community is actively involved in identifying and resolving bugs and security issues, ensuring that the platform remains secure and up-to-date.
Delta Chat is an open-source messaging app that is designed to provide secure and private communication. It is unique in that it utilizes existing email accounts to transmit messages, making it compatible with almost all email services. The app has a decentralized architecture, which means that messages are not stored on a central server but are instead transmitted directly between users’ devices. Delta Chat is available on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Security: In addition to all the advantages of being open-source, Delta Chat’s decentralized design means provides an additional layer of security and privacy, as there is no single point of failure that could compromise users’ messages. It also uses a secure key exchange mechanism to ensure that only the intended recipient can read a message. The app generates a unique key for each user, which is used to encrypt and decrypt messages. When a new contact is added to Delta Chat, the app sends a verification email to confirm the user’s identity and ensure that the encryption keys are exchanged securely.
Encryption: Delta Chat uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that messages are protected from unauthorized access.
Features: The app supports a range of features, including group chats, voice and video calls, and attachments.
Scalability: The app’s decentralized architecture also makes it highly scalable. Since Delta Chat utilizes existing email infrastructure to transmit messages, it can handle a large volume of messages and users without requiring significant additional resources.
Cost: There is no cost to download, use, or access any of its features.
Community Support: Delta Chat has a strong and supportive community of users and developers who contribute to the app’s development, provide support, and share feedback.
Let’s Chat is an open-source chat application that enables real-time messaging between individuals and groups. It is designed to be simple, lightweight, and easy to use, making it an ideal choice for small teams or groups who need to communicate in real-time. Let’s Chat supports multiple chat rooms, private messaging, and file sharing, and it can be customized and extended using plugins and themes.Let’s Chat is built using the Meteor framework, which allows for real-time updates and a smooth user experience.
Security: Let’s Chat provides several security features, such as password protection and HTTPS encryption, to ensure that user data is protected from unauthorized access. Additionally, the application has been designed to be self-hosted, giving users complete control over their data.
Encryption: Let’s Chat supports SSL encryption for securing data in transit. However, it does not provide end-to-end encryption for messages, which may be a concern for users who require an additional layer of security.
User-friendliness: Let’s Chat is known for its user-friendly interface and ease of use. The application is designed to be simple and intuitive, with features such as drag and drop file sharing and customizable notifications.
Features: Let’s Chat provides several features that make it an ideal choice for small teams and groups. It supports multiple chat rooms, private messaging, and file sharing, and it can be customized and extended using plugins and themes.
Scalability: The application is also designed to be highly scalable, making it suitable for large teams and organizations.
Cost: Let’s Chat is open-source and available for free. However, users may incur costs associated with hosting the application on a server or using cloud-based services.
Community Support: the app enjoys active support and input from an active community.
Open-source messaging platforms provide a valuable resource for developers looking to create secure and private communication tools. From end-to-end encryption to self-hosting options, these open-source solutions provide a range of security and privacy features that can be customized and adapted to suit specific user needs. For developers looking to create their own messaging apps, open-source software provides an excellent starting point and offers many advantages over proprietary platforms. By contributing to the open-source community and building on existing technology, developers can help to create a safer and more secure digital environment for all users.