SMS encryption: Are your text messages secure?

Dive into the world of SMS encryption with this informative breakdown. Keep your customers’ conversations safe and ensure your business privacy is protected.

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Razan Saleh

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Data security is a top priority for businesses today, and many are wondering: is SMS encrypted? With the rise of cyber threats and the need to safeguard sensitive information, it is important for businesses to understand the level of security provided by their communication channels.

SMS is commonly used by businesses for its convenience and simplicity. However, as we started using it for multi-factor authentication for OTPs and other use cases, the security factor became an important topic.  

Read on to learn more about end-to-end encryption, why it’s important, and how businesses can ensure the security of their SMS communication.

What is end-to-end encryption?

End-to-end encryption is a security measure that protects messages and ensures data is encrypted throughout the entire communication process, allowing only the intended sender and recipient to access the texts.

In other words, it is a fancy way of saying that messages and data are kept secret or safe from anyone who shouldn’t see them. It makes sure that only the person you’re sending something to can read it, and not anyone else trying to snoop in.

There are two types of encryptions: A2P and P2P.

  • A2P encryption: is used in communication between an application (such as SMS or a messaging app) and an individual user. This type of encryption is used to protect sensitive information such as login credentials, financial details, or personal messages.
  • P2P encryption: is used in person-to-person communication where two or more devices exchange data directly with each other. This type of encryption ensures that the data being exchanged is secure and cannot be intercepted by unauthorized parties.

Most importantly, your information stays safe and private without others seeing and understanding it. But the question remains, is SMS encrypted? Let’s find out.

Is SMS encrypted?

Short messages sent through SMS are not end-to-end encrypted. Why? Simply put, SMS works like e-mail, where messages are sent from a device, transit through a server, and get forwarded to a recipient’s device. The messages may remain stored on a server for some time, allowing others to access them later.  

In addition, mobile carriers provide basic security for text messages, such as GSM or CDMA encryption. This is why it is still possible for messages to be intercepted and read by the network or other third parties.

Although SMS isn’t end-to-end encrypted, it’s not going away any time soon. It is often used as a fallback option or a backup option for when a message fails to send over another channel. Businesses set up SMS fallback in cases when data traffic is unavailable. This ensures that you can get your messages delivered no matter where you’re located.

Nonetheless, businesses need to understand the risks of sending out unencrypted text messages. Let’s explore some of these risks and what businesses can do to protect themselves.

Understanding the risks of not encrypting SMS

Sending unencrypted SMS messages poses significant risks for businesses, as unauthorized parties can intercept and read them. If confidential information falls into the wrong hands, this could lead to data theft, financial losses, reputational damage, and legal implications.

Without encryption, businesses are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and privacy breaches that could have serious consequences. Hence, understanding the risks of sending unencrypted text messages can help protect your business. It’s important to consider what information you share through SMS to keep sensitive data safe.

Here we list the top three risks businesses may face with unencrypted SMS:

  1. Mobile carriers have access to the messages: Since SMS is not encrypted, mobile carriers can access the messages you send and receive.
  2. Authorities can monitor data: Government and law enforcement authorities have the capability to use stingray devices, which function as temporary mobile phone signaling towers. These devices prompt your phone to establish a connection just like it does with regular mobile network towers, potentially leading to the exposure of your data.
  3. Hackers can intercept: Mobile phone networks use something called signaling system 7 (SS7) to enable network communication. Hackers can easily hack into this system and intercept SMS codes to access personal information for illegal purposes like identity theft and fraud.

Installing authenticator applications or security solutions is recommended to provide an extra layer of security.

Why use SMS for two-factor authentication if it’s not encrypted

SMS is still considered a preferred option for two-factor authentication (2FA) for businesses due to its convenience. It is commonly used to send security codes simply because all mobile phones on the planet can send and receive texts.


of breaches are due to weak or stolen passwords
Source: Dataprot


of people use the same password for multiple accounts
Source: Dataprot

SMS two-factor authentication offers a simple and efficient way to authenticate user identity with additional information that is unique to them.

It includes a combination of their password with:

  • A code sent to their device
  • Biometrics

All you need is a mobile phone to receive a 2FA code by text without having to download an encrypted alternative like WhatsApp or Viber. Not to mention, these messaging apps only work over Wi-Fi or mobile data

Although SMS is not the most secure option for 2FA, it is still a safer choice than not using 2FA at all. Additionally, the risk of someone hacking into your 2FA and gaining access to your account remains relatively low.

SMS is a reliable communication channel for businesses  

Even though SMS may not be encrypted, using a secure SMS platform can help enhance security and ensure compliance with data protection laws. Secure SMS platforms have built-in safeguards to protect both business and customer data.

For instance, Infobip employs advanced data encryption measures to secure all data under its control. This includes encrypting all web traffic through Secure Socket Layer connections and employing a web application firewall for additional security. Application data stored is also encrypted, covering photos and attachments for enhanced protection.

Adding a security layer through Signals, enables you to safeguard your business with a comprehensive and automated security solution. The Infobip Signals solution automatically detects and blocks fraudulent messages to ensure a complete, cost-effective, and secure 2FA process.

Additionally, you can setup SMS as a failover channel for other messaging apps like:

For example, a user may be in a rural area with limited data coverage but has a stable cellular signal. If you set up a broadcast with the primary delivery source set to WhatsApp, and the message is not delivered, the system can rely on an SMS failover option to get the message to the customer.

Infobip conversational platform for secure messaging

Infobip offers a unified conversational platform that enables businesses to send secure and encrypted messages to their customers. This platform provides end-to-end encryption, message tracking, and other security features to protect sensitive communications.

As an omnichannel industry leader, we can offer the best SMS service for reliable delivery and secure messaging.  You will have access to:

  • Global reach: You can easily scale your messages as you grow and reach customers anywhere in the world thanks to our 800+ direct operator connections. 
  • Compliancy and security: We adhere to various compliance regulations, including HIPPA, GDPR, and TCPA, which means we can help you send compliant messages in any region. 
  • High delivery rates: Our SMS service is backed by 15 years of experience and development, which enables us to reach the highest deliverability rates for SMS and MMS services. 
  • Quick number provisioning: Short codes, long codes and 10DLC are available almost instantly in 150 countries.

Get started with a secure SMS platform and streamline your customer communication

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Jun 6th, 2024
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Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Razan Saleh

Senior Content Marketing Specialist