Telegram is a popular messenger application that gained popularity in recent years. Due to its user-friendly interface and various features, it became a go-to app for people who are looking for a secure communications channel. Nevertheless, there are a few things that raise some security concerns.
For starters, Telegram doesn’t have encryption by default and requires its users to turn it on manually every time. Additionally, its base of operation is in Dubai, which is not a privacy-respecting country.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive Telegram review. We will check what the app has to offer and whether it’s secure and private. In addition, we will recommend extra tools, such as reliable VPNs, that will boost your safety while using Telegram.
A reliable provider like NordVPN will add an extra layer of security and privacy while using Telegram. Thus, malicious actors and snoopers will have a hard time tracking and stealing your data. Moreover, NordVPN can help you bypass restrictions and give you access to the app in countries under heavy censorship.
Is Telegram safe and private?
Telegram stands out as a mid-range messaging application for several compelling reasons, making it a popular choice among thousands of users. Here are five key factors that set Telegram apart:
- Reliable encryption. Telegram takes user privacy seriously. The app uses robust encryption for a majority of messages, which is a critical feature for those who value their online privacy. However, you must manually enable end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to prevent tracking.
- Independence from corporate giants. Unlike messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, which are owned by tech giants such as Facebook, Telegram maintains a level of independence. This means it is less influenced by political and marketing interests, providing a more user-centric experience.
- Advanced security features. Telegram offers essential online safety features: secret chats, stringent security protocols, and additional privacy measures. These features allow users to have confidential conversations and protect their data from potential threats.
- Large file sharing. The ability to handle large file transfers with ease is a huge advantage that Telegram utilizes to the fullest. It makes sharing documents, images, videos, and other media, particularly for work or personal use, a breeze.
- Cross-platform support. Last but not least, telegram is available across various platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Thanks to that, you can connect with friends and family seamlessly.
However, not everything that glitters is gold. While Telegram is a great hub for chatting and the folks behind it do have the best interest of users in their minds, there’s room for fine-tuning. For this reason, it’s best to pair Telegram with a reliable VPN to achieve complete anonymity from your ISP, hackers, and other crooked snoopers.
Telegram messenger features
Let’s take a look at the safety and privacy features that Telegram messenger has to offer.
Telegram features the option to open what is known as Secret Chats, which contain end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages. The time limit on message self-destruction can be set by the user. Additionally, you can set photos to self-destruct, and the countdown for that begins as soon as the receiver opens the photograph.
However, we were disappointed while analyzing this feature as it reveals that Telegram only uses end-to-end encryption during Secret Chats. With other instant messengers, this comes as standard.
You might want to use a Telegram VPN to ensure maximum security and encryption. That way, you won’t have to worry about digital threats or someone breaching your privacy.
Unlike many other messengers, the Telegram app allows users to create a personal passcode lock. When the app is locked, the user will never receive push notifications. The company states that this is to ensure “private data stays hidden from prying eyes.”
However, our issue with the passcode lock is that it is only four digits long. This isn’t the best form of security because a four-digit passcode can be brute-forced by a computer in under seven minutes. Telegram’s passcode lock is, therefore, a weak promise of protection.
Partially due to the two-step verification mentioned above, the Telegram app can be used on multiple devices. This can be either highly convenient or a nightmare; it’s easy to become paranoid over whether you remembered to log out of any devices that may also be used by other people – not to mention if one of those devices is stolen.
Nevertheless, Telegram has the Active Sessions feature that allows you to see which devices you are logged in on. Thus, you have the option to terminate any of these sessions if you really need to.
Telegram automatically deletes your account if it has been inactive for 6 months. It’s understandable when considering the need for Telegram to maintain enough disk space to run the service.
As messages on Telegram are decentralized, the company has no way of accessing your messages, let alone deleting them. While this is technically good news, it’s also worth noting that the company admits they cannot remove your messages from other users’ devices. Unless you enable automatic self-destruction of those messages, which, again, is only available in Secret Chats.
This means that if you simply forget to use Telegram for a while, your account could be permanently deleted, but any messages you have sent before this happens will remain in the hands of the person you sent them to. Quite simply, there are endless ways this could go wrong.
We were initially worried when starting the research for our Telegram review, given that the initial login verification is conducted through SMS. This kind of communication is notoriously unsecure, and many users have reported that their SMS four-digit code had been intercepted and their account hacked.
Fortunately, we soon found that Telegram allows for two-step authentication, wherein a user-generated password can also be applied at the login stage. While this makes sense from a cybersecurity standpoint, it’s quite unwieldy, and it seems like the team behind Telegram is simply putting out fires as soon as they pop up.
One thing we do like about Telegram is that it provides you with the option to not share your “last seen” status. This is a huge flaw with other services, such as Facebook Messenger, and the fact that you’re able to toggle this can definitely improve your privacy.
How to use Telegram
Telegram’s installation process is fairly painless. For mobile users, the app is available on the App Store, Google Play, and the Microsoft store. From there, all you’ll need to do is download the app to your phone and register your mobile number with the app.
Telegram’s interface essentially works like the majority of other messenger apps. There is the option to provide a username so that others can search for you, although if you’re mindful of your online data privacy, then this isn’t advisable – any user can search for your username and then message you through the Telegram app.
Telegram is also available on desktops (MacOS, Windows, and Linux), as with many other messenger systems. However, partially because the software uses mobile numbers as identifiers, you are required to register your account via the mobile app(s) first. Telegram then sends you a verification code via SMS which will activate the app on your desktop device.
Government Censorship of Telegram Messenger
As Telegram is a messenger app that can prevent mass surveillance and censorship, it’s banned in quite a few regions. If you live in one of the following countries, using Telegram will be pretty much impossible there:
|Countries where Telegram is restricted or banned
|Thailand, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Cuba, China, Belarus, Bahrain, Azerbaijan
As of April 26, 2023, Telegram was completely banned in Brazil for a few days. That is due to allegations that the app was used by neo-nazis to incite school attacks. Telegram refused to give the data and cooperate with the court. Therefore, the app was shut down nationwide.
And that’s not the first time when Telegram had problems in Brazil. The app was also suspended in 2022 for failing to freeze accounts accused of spreading disinformation ahead of the country’s recent presidential election.
Therefore, if you’re tired of Telegram getting shut down every 5 minutes, you can use a VPN to change your location, for stable and trouble-free use. That way, you won’t have to worry about app bans and and suspensions. Plus, you’ll be able to use Telegram even in highly restricted countries.
Pros and cons of Telegram
|Pros of Telegram
|Cons of Telegram
|Not all messages are end-to-end encrypted
|Collects some personal data (IP addresses, contacts, etc.)
|Requires mobile number
As you can see, Telegram has quite a few benefits. You can use Secret Chats for private and encrypted messages. Moreover, it’s open-source, which means that Telegram is quite flexible and community-driven. Plus, it ensures safety by implementing two-step authentication, self-destructing messages, and account termination.
Nevertheless, it’s not a perfect messaging app. It does collect some of your data, and you have to manually enable E2EE for privacy. Luckily, you can solve most of these problems with a trustworthy VoIP VPN.
5 ways to secure Telegram chats
Your communication on Telegram can be much safer with certain tools and methods. Here’s how:
- Use a first-rate VPN. If you seek truly anonymous communication online, whether Telegram or not, a VPN is the best companion. It pulls wool over the eyes of any third party thanks to the robust AES-256 encryption and extra security measures. But, choose a solid provider. For instance, messages sent and received with NordVPN won’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Toggle with privacy settings. You can limit the information displayed on your profile, including forwarded messages, shared media, and phone number. You can manage information here: Telegram > Settings > Privacy and Security.
- Enable secret chats. It’s advisable to use secret chats for chatting as it’s the only option with end-to-end encryption on the app. You can enable the feature like this: open the profile of the chosen user and tap on ‘…’, then click Start Secret Chat.
- Turn on a two-factor authenticator. 2FA is a necessary step in adding a layer of security to your Telegram account. It requires an extra step each time you log into your device, which helps repel unauthorized access. Here’s how to enable 2FA on Telegram app: Telegram > Settings > Privacy and Security > Two-Step Verification.
- Activate the Auto-Delete feature. Another step towards privacy is regular clean up of past messages. You can set the app to delete your messages at a chosen time so you don’t need to do it manually. Here’s how to do it: Telegram > Settings > Privacy and Security >Auto-Delete Messages.
Overall, Telegram is one of the most secure and private messaging applications on the market. With Secret Chats, self-destructing messages, and other safety features, the app provides its users with peace of mind. However, like any other application, you have to use it responsibly by not revealing too much personal information.
NordVPN is the fastest road to private and secure Telegram communication. The provider perfectly fills in the cracks left behind by the developers of the app. You get robust AES-256 encryption, Double VPN, and other security features to protect your chats. Moreover, the service extends your online capabilities beyond chatting on apps like Telegram, all the while maintaining your anonymity.
What are your thoughts on Telegram? Do you use it with a VPN to stay safe? Let us know in the comments!
Is Telegram safe and legit?
Telegram is legit and secure, but not by default. You need to turn on Secret Chats to turn on end-to-end encryption and prevent snooping. Moreover, Telegram archives and keeps your actual IP address for over 12 months. To avoid problems, you need NordVPN to encrypt your entire data and keep you private.
Is Telegram safer than WhatsApp?
Yes, Telegram is more secure than WhatsApp. The former doesn’t collect as much metadata and is not connected to Facebook. However, you need to turn on Secret Chats to enable end-to-end encryption.
What is the downside of Telegram?
The biggest downside of Telegram is that it doesn’t have end-to-end encryption by default. You need to access Secret Chats to prevent snooping. But you need to secure your whole network if you want to stay safe while using Telegram. Thus, get NordVPN and prevent digital threats.