Text messaging is one of the most popular communication methods available today. In 2018 there was an estimated 6.5 trillion SMS messages sent – and that was just in the USA.

Text messages are a large part of daily life. We use them to chat with friends and family, to stay in touch with our work colleagues and to get help and advice from the brands we shop with.

Unsurprisingly, all this personal data makes your text messages a target for hackers. From sensitive secrets to passwords and account numbers, everything is available – if they can break in.

The importance of encrypting your text messages

Encryption offers a way to stop people spying on your messages – only you and the recipient can ‘decode’ the text. If your messages are intercepted by hackers, they will not be able to ‘see’ what you have written.

Messaging apps like Apple iMessage and WhatsApp already include end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default, helping to keep their users’ information private. This is not a new technology, but until recently Android Messages has not used encryption. However, the latest app update does finally include E2EE.

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To help keep yourself protected, you should install the update as soon as possible:

  • Download Android Messages from the Google Play store
  • Once the install has completed, launch the app and tap the three dots () in the top right corner
  • Tap on Settings then Chat
  • Toggle the Enable chat features setting to on.

Your phone is now set up to send and receive encrypted messages. But there are two issues:

  1. All of your contacts must download the new app and enable the chat features – otherwise your encryption will not work and your messages are still readable.
  2. Android Messages does not apply encryption to group messages – these messages can still be intercepted and read too.

So you’re part of the way to safer messaging.

Next steps with encrypted texts

Here are some additional things you can do to better protect your text messages on Android:

First, message your contacts and share these instructions for enabling chat features. This will ensure that all of your messages are properly encrypted in future.

Second, for very sensitive conversations, consider using an alternative messaging app like Telegram or Signal. These apps can be used on Apple and Android devices – and all messages are encrypted by default. You don’t have to change any additional settings to get started.

Third, make sure you have mobile antimalware installed on your smartphone. Antimalware will help you detect if your phone has been hacked – and to remove the infection – before the hackers can steal your text message data.

Click here to download Panda Antivirus for Android – it’s completely free and extremely effective at protecting your smartphone against malware and hacking. The perfect complement to text message encryption.