The Best VPNs for Telegram Messenger - Telegram Is Not As Secure As You May Think

Telegram is an encrypted messenger service that is often opposed by security experts, however, the app remains wildly popular, especially within the Middle East. In Iran alone, Telegram has some 40 million monthly active users. 

Several governments have tried, or have proposed, to block Telegram - notably Indonesia and Russia and Iran. By using a VPN for Telegram, you can unblock the app if you are unable to access your location. A VPN will also exponentially improve your online privacy and security. In this guide, we list the best VPNs for Telegram and give you some top tips on 

The best VPN for Telegram

We have listed the best VPNs for Telegram below. If you want more information about any of these services, check out their website or scroll below this section for a closer look at each service.

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN for Telegram. It is consistently of the fastest VPNs out there and has strong encryption on all platforms.
  2. CyberGhost VPN - Great value for money and has easy to use apps on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android making it great for beginners.
  3. Private Internet Access - A private VPN service with a proven no-logs policy. Great for unblocking Telegram if it is blocked in your location.
  4. Surfshark - The cheapest VPN for Telegram. It has excellent encryption, it's fast, and allows unlimited simultaneous connections.
  5. VyprVPN - Has slick apps for all major platforms and offers strong encryption which is great for unblocking Telegram.

All the VPN services in the list above will allow you to unblock Telegram because they have the following features:

These features will also ensure your data is kept private and secure on Telegram and on the web in general.

Best VPN for Telegram - In-depth Analysis

We take a closer look at our recommended VPNs for Telegram below. If you want any more information about these services, check out our in-depth VPN reviews.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Telegram. This service has super-fast servers and excellent encryption across all of its apps. It has support for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

ExpressVPN is a fantastic VPN service for Telegram users thanks to great 24/7 customer service, easy-to-use software, and a 30-day, no quibbles, money-back guarantee that actually does what it promises. It's also very fast and offers server end-points in an impressive 87 different countries (with a number in the Middle East).


The encryption that ExpressVPN uses is as strong as it gets, and stealth mode is ideal for bypassing government VPN restrictions. The software is available for all major platforms, can be used on three simultaneous devices, and is extremely easy to use.

CyberGhost is great value for money. This service has easy to use apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac making it great for beginners. It has strong encryption on all major platform.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.75 - $12.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

CyberGhost‘s software is easy-to-use while also being fully featured. It uses very strong encryption, and 5 simultaneous connections is generous. Being based in Romania and keeping no meaningful logs is also a big draw. Like ExpressVPN, some minimal statistics are kept, but with no time stamp or IPs recorded, these present no threat to users' privacy.


Although it runs few servers in the Middle East itself, CyberGhost has a strong Eastern European presence, which is ideal for overcoming regional censorship.


CyberGhost’s great logging policy, decent local (burst) speeds, and fully featured software are a winning combination. And with a 7-day free premium trial plus 30-day no-quibble money-back guarantee, there is zero reason not to give it a whirl.

Private Internet Access lives up to it's name as it is a private and secure service. It has been proven in court that it does not keep VPN logs which is great for privacy.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.69 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Private Internet Access VPN is a US-based provider that keeps zero logs, a claim it has proven in court. The VPN was recently acquired by Kape Technologies - a cybersec firm based in London whose primary aim is to help consumers gain protection online. PIA VPN has servers in 33 countries, it provides strong OpenVPN encryption, and is one of the most popular VPN services among Reddit users. It also has live chat support and access to Netflix US.

Surfshark is the cheapest VPN for Telegram costing less than $2 a month. It has excellent encryption and you can use it on an unlimited number of devices with one subscription.

  • Pricing

    From  $1.94 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark is a no-logs VPN service with great technical security, a bunch of useful features, and superb 24/7 support. It has a staggering unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you can cover all supported devices within your household. But don't just take our word for it. Try it for yourself with the provider's 30-day money-back guarantee.

VyprVPN has slick apps on Android, IOS, Mac, and Windows. It offers users strong encryption on all it's servers and it is great for unblocking Telegram.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.50 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

VyprVPN is notable for being one of the rare VPN services to own and control its entire network infrastructure. The result is fantastically fast connection speeds around the world.

We strongly recommend avoiding its PPTP-only basic plan, but VyprVPN otherwise offers a great selection of features, such as a SmartDNS service, robust customer support, port selection, and servers in over 70 countries.

VyprVPNs “Chameleon” stealth technology is effective in countries such as Iran. Like ExpressVPN, VyprVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Why you should use a VPN for Telegram

Using a VPN will allow you to access the Telegram website and download the desktop software, even when it is otherwise blocked. It should also help unblock Telegram in the event of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocking the Telegram protocol.

If Telegram is not available from the Google Play store in your country, Android users can download the app using F-Droid.

Unfortunately for privacy, Telegram authenticates users using their phone numbers. This means that Telegram Messenger LLP knows who its users are. Thus it can (in theory) associate non-end-to-end encrypted conversations with individual users (more on this later). Would it ever divulge this information to governments? Probably not, but who knows?

Of more concern is the fact that Telegram stores this information on its servers. It is therefore vulnerable to hacking and surveillance. In Russia last year, two activists’ Telegram accounts were hacked, probably by Russian security services with the cooperation of the activists’ mobile provider.

If any of Telegram's servers get compromised, all of the users' data is up in the air. We know from the Snowden revelation and all massive hacks that no single computer can be protected from hackers. Especially if it's a juicy target with millions of people's conversations stored on it.

Nima Fatemi addressing the Committee to Protect Journalists

Telegram is not as secure as you may think!

Despite its reputation for privacy and security, privacy and security experts are not fans of Telegram.

End-to-end Encryption

Central to Telegram’s privacy and security claims is its Secret Chat option. This uses end-to-end encryption in order to allow for private and secure conversations. It means that all messages are encrypted on the sender’s device when he/she enables Secret Chat. The messages can only be decrypted and read on the intended recipient’s device.

Messages sent using Secret Chat should, therefore, secure, even against hackers and Telegram Messenger LLP itself.

This is great. However, experts have criticized Telegram for not enabling Secret Chat by default. Unless you specifically activate Secret Chat, messages sent using Telegram aren't secure. This means that Telegram Messenger LLP and hackers could access them.

It's gravely concerning that many Telegram users don't know that their messages aren't secure by default. Some may simply forget to turn Secret Chat on.

When combined with Telegram’s method of authenticating users using their phone numbers, this makes it very easy for governments to seize accounts and access unencrypted messages.

Telegram Secret Chat

Always use the Secret Chat option when you want to keep your conversations private

Encryption Concerns

Additionally, even if you enable Secret Chat, researchers are critical of the encryption used by Telegram. Rather than use tried, tested, and fully audited encryption standards, Telegram uses its own MTProto encryption protocol.

As a detailed security assessment (.pdf) of MTProto notes:

Our main discovery is that the symmetric encryption scheme used in Telegram &nbsp;&ndash; &nbsp;known &nbsp;as &nbsp;MTProto &nbsp;&ndash; &nbsp;is &nbsp;not &nbsp;IND-CCA secure, &nbsp;since &nbsp;it &nbsp;is possible to turn any ciphertext into a different ciphertext that decrypts to the same message&hellip;</p> <p>The take-home message (once again) is that well-studied, provably secure encryption schemes that achieve strong definitions of security (e.g. authenticated-encryption) are to be preferred to home-brewed encryption schemes.

Security Assessment

This is a criticism endorsed by Nate Cardozo, senior staff attorney at Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has recommended not using Telegram because of "its lack of end-to-end encryption [by default] and its use of non-standard MTProto encryption protocol, which has been publicly criticized by cryptography researchers, including Matthew Green."

If you would like to know more about how encryption works, why not check out our ultimate guide to online privacy?

Open Source?

The only way to know if software can be trusted is if it is open source. This means that researchers can freely examine the code to ensure nothing malicious is going on. The Telegram client is primarily open source, but contains some elements (called binary blobs) that are not.

Some experts have also criticized Telegram for being slow publishing recent versions its open source code. This is a security problem, as the code could be modified without anyone being aware of it.

The server-side code is closed-source and proprietary. However, this shouldn't be an issue if you enable end-to-end encryption (Secret Chat).

Telegram 1

Signal is More Secure

If privacy and security are your main reasons for using Telegram then you should consider switching to Signal. Experts widely regard Signal as the most secure means of remote communication currently available.

The WhatsApp app is based on Signal. Although not without issues, WhatsApp is also much more secure than Telegram.

Of course, you may simply want to use Telegram because your friends and colleagues use it. You may also want to follow particular Telegram users via the app’s mass-broadcast Channel function. This is absolutely fine, but please bear in mind Telegram’s limitations on the privacy/security front.

Telegram in Iran

Iran blocks mainstream media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and most international news sites. Telegram is widely used as a means to bypass state censorship and to access reformist viewpoints.

Telegram had a huge impact in Iran's last parliamentary election. Reformist activists had very limited access to major media outlets and the state radio and TV, so they used Telegram to send and spread their messages.

Amir Rashidi - Internet Security Researcher For The Center for Human Rights

In response to this, the conservative and authoritarian Iranian government has sought to regulate Telegram. It now requires all Iranian citizens by law to register Telegram channels with more than 5,000 followers with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Some 2,000 Channels (Persian) are now registered in this way.

According to statement by Telegram, in advance of the 2017 elections “internet providers in the country are blocking the protocol that is used to establish a connection between users before a P2P call can be activated.”

If you're looking to circumvent state restrictions on content in Iran, our best 5 VPNs for Iran should make for interesting reading.

Arrests

Iranian authorities arrested the administrators of 12 reformist Telegram Channels ahead of the May 2017 election. These Channels included Reform News, with more than 111,000 followers, and Assembly of Reformists, with 94,000 followers.

It is my understanding that the authorities later released the Channel admins. However, Radhidi argues that the arrests helped to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among liberals and progressives in the country.

Russia Bans Telegram

On Friday 19 April 2020 a Moscow court authorized Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications and technology watchdog, to block Telegram.

The move follows demands from the Federal Security Service (FSB) that Telegram hand over its encryption keys to the secretive KGB successor after claiming that it is widely used by terrorists. Telegram refused.

Good news, however, is that Telegram can still be freely accessed in Russia using a VPN. This is because a VPN hides the fact that you are connecting to the Telegram network from your internet and/or mobile provider (and therefore the Roskomnadzor).

For more information on this story please see our full Russia Bans Telegram Messenger article.

Best Telegram Messenger VPNs: Conclusion

Telegram has proven itself to be a useful tool for defeating censorship and exercising freedom of speech. If you can't access the Telegram website, or your ISP attempts to block the Telegram protocol, a VPN will help.

Do please be aware, however, of Telegram’s limitations as a privacy tool. Most importantly, always remember to use the Secret Chat feature when participating in discussions that you would rather the authorities not access.

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN for Telegram. It is consistently of the fastest VPNs out there and has strong encryption on all platforms.
  2. CyberGhost VPN - Great value for money and has easy to use apps on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android making it great for beginners.
  3. Private Internet Access - A private VPN service with a proven no-logs policy. Great for unblocking Telegram if it is blocked in your location.
  4. Surfshark - The cheapest VPN for Telegram. It has excellent encryption, it's fast, and allows unlimited simultaneous connections.
  5. VyprVPN - Has slick apps for all major platforms and offers strong encryption which is great for unblocking Telegram.

Image Credit: Allmy/Shutterstock.com

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

2 Comments

Rick
on May 1, 2018
Reply
The proxy for telegram can be taken here telegram-socks.tk or from the bot @tproxies_bot
Timothy T.
on September 21, 2017
Reply
That's a killer deal for Express VPN! Wish I would've read this before I updated my subscription....
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