Unlike Signal, Telegram chats are not end-to-end encrypted. By default, you only get encryption on the server side. But if you want full encryption, you have to enter a separate secret chat mode. Here̵
What is Secret Chat in Telegram?
When it comes to security and privacy, Telegram far outperforms popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Telegram is open-source and all of its code is available online for verification by security experts.
But by default Telegram only provides encryption on the server side. Telegram syncs your data (messages, media and groups) between all your devices and uploads it to its servers by default. All data on Telegram’s server is encrypted. This means you are safe from your internet service provider, wifi router interception and other third parties.
But Telegram may still be able to access your data (if they really wanted to). According to Telegram, the encryption method is the best compromise for features and security. Your large groups, channels and media are backed up, instantly available on all your devices, and encrypted in the cloud. If you trust Telegram to protect your data, don’t worry.
On the other hand, if you want end-to-end encryption where no one (including Telegram) can access your data, you need to open a separate mode called Secret Chat.
Secret chat mode only works for one-to-one conversations and not groups (of any size). Once you enter secret chat mode, Telegram allows end-to-end encryption. This means that only you and the recipient can read the messages as they are only stored on your devices and not on Telegram’s servers. No one else can open or decrypt the messages, including Telegram.
Secret chat messages cannot be forwarded and if you take a screenshot, the recipient will be notified. When you delete a message, it is deleted for both users.
Because secret chat messages are device-specific, they are only available on the device you start the chat with. If you log out of the current device, you will also lose the secret chat. And once you delete the conversation, all messages will disappear from the conversation as well.
Once the secret chat starts, you can chat as you always do. Optionally, you can enable a self-destruct timer (such as Instagram or WhatsApp), where all messages disappear after a set amount of time once the message is displayed on the recipient’s screen.
RELATED: How to send disappearing messages in WhatsApp
How to start an encrypted secret chat in Telegram
Now that you understand how the Secret Chat feature works, let’s take a closer look at it. The steps for iPhone and Android are the same, but the interface is different.
If you’re using an iPhone, tap the contact’s name at the top of a conversation to start.
Tap the “More” button here.
In the pop-up, select the option “Start Secret Chat”.
Select the “Start” button to confirm.
If you’re using an Android smartphone, start by tapping your contact’s name at the top of the conversation.
Here, tap on the three-dot menu button in the top right corner of the screen.
Now select the option “Start Secret Chat”.
Confirm in the popup by tapping the “Start” button.
You are now in secret chat mode. Secret chat conversations are displayed separately in Telegram’s chat list and you can identify secret chats with the lock icon next to the username.
You can now send messages in chat however you want.
How to activate self-destruct mode in secret chat in Telegram
To make your communication even more secure, you can enable a self-destruct function. Once it’s enabled, all future exchanges will automatically disappear after the set time (once shown on the receiver’s screen).
On your iPhone, tap the stopwatch icon in the text box.
Then select the self-destruct timer you want to set. You can set it from a second to a week. After selecting your timer, tap “Done”.
On your Android smartphone, tap the stopwatch icon in the top toolbar.
Then select the self-destruct timer and tap the “Done” button to set it.
To turn the timer off, tap the stopwatch icon again, choose the “Off” button and tap the “Done” button.
How to exit secret mode in Telegram
As we mentioned above, you can have two different conversations with the same person on Telegram. One in standard mode and another in secret chat mode.
But if you’re done with a conversation and want to delete all data and close the secret chat, you might be stunned to find a Close or Close button. The only way to leave Secret Chat is to actually delete the conversation.
To do this on your iPhone, go to the conversation view in Telegram and swipe left on the conversation.
From here, tap on the “Delete” button.
In the popup, tap the “Delete Chat” button to confirm.
If you’re using an Android smartphone, open the secret chat and tap the three-dot menu icon in the top toolbar.
Choose the “Delete chat” button here.
In the pop-up, select the option “Delete chat”.
The secret chat will now be deleted from your device. If you want to send end-to-end encrypted messages again, you will have to restart the secret chat.
If you want end-to-end encryption for all your chats and groups, Signal might be a good option for you. This is how Signal compares to Telegram when it comes to privacy and feature set.
RELATED: Signal Vs Telegram: Which Is The Best Chat App?