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The best VPNs for Telegram Messenger | Telegram isn't 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 blocked or tried to block Telegram - notably Indonesia, Russia, and Iran. By using a VPN for Telegram, you can unblock Telegram even if the government restricts its use. A VPN will also improve your online privacy and security, making it safe to access Telegram even when it is blocked.

In this guide, we list the best VPNs for Telegram and give you some tips to improve your Telegram security.

The best VPN for Telegram

The best VPNs for Telegram must have fast servers able to unblock VoIP apps. They must also have strong privacy and security features to let you use Telegram without being monitored. Below you can take a quick look at the best VPNs for the job, to find out more about why each service was chosen, simply scroll down for in-depth summaries.

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN for Telegram. It's consistently fast, with strong encryption on all platforms, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. TIP

    In our testing we checked that all ExpressVPN plans work for Netflix. The one year plan is the best value: three months free and a 30 day risk-free trial.

  3. NordVPN - The best mid-range Telegram VPN. It's a privacy-oriented, user-friendly service; plenty of features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  4. Private Internet Access - A secure VPN with a proven no-logs policy. Great for unblocking Telegram privately, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  5. PrivateVPN - The cheapest Telegram VPN. A no-logs feature-rich provider that's simple to setup, and which offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  6. Surfshark - The best value-for-money Telegram VPN. It's fast, with unlimited simultaneous connections, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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.

1. ExpressVPN
Editor's Choice | April 2024

ExpressVPN is the best Telegram VPN. It has super-fast servers and excellent encryption across all of its apps. You get watertight privacy and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Pricing

    • 12 months + 3 months FREE + Backblaze backup: $6.67/mth
      49% OFF
    • 6 months: $9.99/mth
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros

    • Super-fast servers, supports all your data-intensive tasks
    • Unblocks Netflix, HBO Max, and iPlayer with ease
    • Superb OpenVPN encryption and leak protection
    • Sleek apps for all platforms, beginner-friendly
    • Audited zero-logs policy
  • Cons

    • On the pricey side - but you do get what you pay for
    • Only 5 simultaneous connections
    • No port-forwarding, not great for torrenters
  • Available on

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

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

ExpressVPN Demo

ExpressVPN Demo ExpressVPN Demo

ExpressVPN more than earns a top spot in our top five, being able to unblock Telegram and other VoIP services, and jam-packed with security features that put your privacy first. Admittedly, an ExpressVPN subscription won't come cheap, but you're getting a high-quality product for the premium price.

Cross-platform protection

The ExpressVPN apps are easy to install and incredibly stylish – there's no outdated, clunky interface to figure out! And, because ExpressVPN has apps for just about all platforms, you'll be able to access Telegram from any of your devices. This versatility means that ExpressVPN can keep your connection secure whether you're using your home PC or connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots on your mobile, and one subscription will bag you five simultaneous connections.

All of ExpressVPN's apps come stuffed with security features. AES 256-bit encryption prevents hackers and snoopers from taking a peek at your data, and users can take their pick of VPN protocols; OpenVPN, IKEv2, and the proprietary and lightweight Lightway, included. ExpressVPN protects its users from DNS leaks and offers obfuscation (stealth) measures that can bypass even the most stubborn internet restrictions, too. To top things off, ExpressVPN abides by an audited no-logs policy and is based in the British Virgin Islands – and this means that you don't have to worry about the provider keeping hold of any activity logs.

Bye bye to barriers

ExpressVPN has servers dotted across the world in 105 countries , so you'll never have any trouble geo-hopping from one location to another. This comes in especially handy if Telegram has been blocked in your country, or if you can't access the site in order to download the app. All you'll need to do is connect to an ExpressVPN server in a location where the service is available! I'm happy to report that ExpressVPN's speeds are consistent and lightning fast, and that I've never had trouble joining VoIP calls whilst connected to the service. As such, ExpressVPN is an ideal pick for folks who stay in touch with loved ones – or avid streamers who simply want to watch their favorite content without constant buffering!

Unblocking streaming services is something that ExpressVPN very much excels at. Customers will be able to browse through international Netflix catalogs, as well as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, to name a few. Plus, if social media sites are hard to access in your current location, ExpressVPN has no trouble unblocking Twitter and Facebook, so you can stay abreast of current issues and contact your friends and family.

Take it for a spin

If you're intrigued by ExpressVPN's myriad features but unsure whether they're worth the cost of a subscription, you'll be able to put the service to the test in your own time, on your own devices, by making good use of the 30-day money-back guarantee. Likewise, a customer support team is available 24/7 to field any questions that crop up, and you can reach out to them via live chat.

I particularly like that ExpressVPN gives its users the opportunity to pay for a subscription with Bitcoin via BitPay. This is a fantastic option for folks who are truly invested in remaining as anonymous as possible, as this payment method only requires you to provide an email address – so there's no need to reveal your identity!

NordVPN is a great all-around VPN for Telegram. It comes with an expansive server network, stealth features, great unblocking capacity, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 3 months FREE: $3.69/mth
      70% OFF
    • 12 months: $4.99/mth
      59% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.99/mth
  • Pros

    • Unblocks all popular streaming platforms with ease
    • Consistently fast, ideal for streaming and gaming
    • Obfuscation (stealth) features are available
    • It's feature-rich but affordable
  • Cons

    • More expensive than the VPNs below
    • Only six simultaneous connections
    • UI can feel cramped at times
  • Available on

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

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

Nord Demo

Nord Demo Nord Demo

NordVPN has made a stellar reputation for itself as a privacy-oriented provider, thanks in no small part to its no-logs policy and Panama base. These factors alone mark the service as one of the best choices for Telegram users. Whilst reviewing NordVPN, I was pleased to see that it reiterated its stance on security with robust encryption and by giving users the option of making Bitcoin payments.

No more prying eyes

If you're using Telegram, it's likely that you're aware of the myriad threats to your digital privacy that are lurking online – and the last thing you need to be worrying about whilst trying to contact loved ones is whether anyone, or any organization, is snooping on your browsing session. NordVPN can make sure that your connection stays private, thanks to AES 256-bit encryption, and I'd also recommend using the OpenVPN protocol if privacy is your main concern – though the WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol could be a great alternative for folks who want a balance of speed and security. NordVPN's automatic kill-switch is also massively appreciated, and this handy tool can even be configured to affect specific nominated applications or simply cut your internet connection entirely if your VPN connection drops out.

As I mentioned earlier, NordVPN makes its home in Panama, which is great news in terms of privacy. Plus, NordVPN's no-logs policy ensures that no activity logs are stored anywhere – and this has all been confirmed by an independent team of auditors. This is exactly what I like to see from popular VPN services, and why I think Telegram users should feel secure using NordVPN for even the most sensitive calls and conversations.

The key to global content

When it comes to speed, NordVPN always ranks well in our daily tests, and can handle VoIP calls as well as HD streaming and torrenting. Previously, the VPN did suffer from some performance issues, but has worked hard to iron them out and stabilize the service. As a result, NordVPN is now a speedy provider ideal for anyone who'll be making frequent video calls! Oh, and if you're a streaming addict, you'll be happy to hear that NordVPN can unblock all the most in-demand services out there – US Netflix included.

I'm always astounded by just how vast NordVPN's network of servers is – there are thousands of them in over 111 countries worldwide, after all! You can pick and choose a server depending on your specific use case, or hit the Quick Connect button to get matched up with a recommended server based on your location, and this feature works well with mobile devices. NordVPN also has servers in and around the Middle East, which will help users in Iran to get the best speeds possible, and access to a free web.

Features galore

The list of NordVPN features goes on and on. The service is P2P friendly, has apps for all platforms, and even boasts obfuscated servers that hide your VPN usage entirely! All in all, NordVPN is a superb all-rounder that's just as intuitive (and useful) to VPN newbies as it is to tech veterans. Subscribers get six simultaneous connections to play with, which is a pretty typical amount, but I'd still like to see NordVPN offer more, eventually.

If you'd like to try NordVPN for yourself, you can! Simply take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee and trial all of these features without risking a single cent. And, if you need help deciding which server to join in order to unblock Telegram, or if you have other burning questions, you can get in touch with the NordVPN customer service team 24/7 via email and live chat.

Private Internet Access lives up to its name as it is a private and secure service. It has proven in court that it doesn't keep VPN logs and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 2 months FREE: $2.19/mth
      82% OFF
    • 6 months: $7.5/mth
      38% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.95/mth
  • Pros

    • A court-proven zero-logs policy
    • 10 simultaneous connections
    • Super cheap for the privacy levels it offers
  • Cons

    • Has a lot of advanced features that may put beginners off
    • Based in the US, not the best country privacy-wise
    • No stealth servers, not ideal for countries like China
  • Available on

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

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

PIA Demo

PIA Demo PIA Demo

Private Internet Access (PIA) is an excellent all-rounder and a great option for anyone looking to unblock Telegram, as well as other geo-restricted sites. PIA is particularly useful to VPN veterans who can confidently take advantage of a slew of customization options available in the PIA apps, as well as adjustable encryption protocols.

Serious security

If you're an advanced VPN user with some specific needs, you'll definitely want to check out PIA. The service's encryption can be made weaker or stronger, depending on what you're doing online, and it's encouraging to see both OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols available to users. So, you'll never need to compromise your security in order to maximize your connection speeds – with PIA, you can have both! The PIA apps are also fully-featured with just about everything you'll need to ensure that no prying eyes are privy to your sensitive details. The VPN packs a kill-switch (which is hugely important for torrenters), as well as DNS leak protection, and obfuscation (stealth) measures.

PIA is, however, based in the US, and I'm sure you're already aware that that's not exactly ideal. The US is home to the CIA and NSA, and infamous for serving VPN providers with warrants and gag orders. Fortunately, PIA's no-logs policy has been proven in court on multiple occasions, and means that the service would have no records to hand over to authorities even if they did come calling.

Global coverage

Because PIA has a huge network of servers across a whopping 84 countries worldwide, you'll be able to unblock Telegram without any issues, and get right back to messaging friends and family with total peace of mind. All of PIA's servers are seriously fast, too, meaning you'll also have no trouble streaming HD content or hopping into VoIP calls. Because of PIA's "domestic focus" in the United States, it's a particularly smart choice for anyone interested in unblocking Netflix US, or other American streaming services or content libraries.

I like that PIA has fresh new apps for most platforms, so that you can take Telegram with you wherever you go, and supports 10 simultaneous connections – which is especially generous when compared to some of the service's more expensive competitors!

Clean up your connection

PIA can do more than just unblock Telegram and other sites and services, however, and I've always enjoyed its ad-blocking feature. PIA MACE can shoo away ads, trackers, and malware, to ensure that your browsing experience is as safe as possible and free from any annoying pop-ups just waiting for you to accidentally click on them.

You can try PIA for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and reach out to the VPN's superb customer service team 24/7 to get expert advice via live chat.

The cheapest private VPN for Telegram. It lives up to its name, using OpenVPN encryption to secure your Telegram communications – a 30-day money-back guarantee is included too.

  • Pricing

    • 36 months: $2/mth
      84% OFF
    • 3 months: $6/mth
      50% OFF
    • 1 month: $9.99/mth
      17% OFF
  • Pros

    • Unblocks most social media sites and streaming platforms
    • Advanced privacy features
    • The cheapest VPN on this list
  • Cons

    • A smaller pool of servers than other VPNs on this list
    • Slower than ExpressVPN and NordVPN
    • Not publicly audited (yet)
  • Available on

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

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

PrivateVPN Demo

PrivateVPN Demo PrivateVPN Demo

There aren't that many VPNs that could live up to the name "PrivateVPN", but this impressive newcomer more than meets the measure. PrivateVPN is probably the best choice for anyone new to VPN technology, seeing as it only takes a few clicks to download and install the app, and its full suite of security measures ensures that the only people who can see your Telegram communications are you and your chosen recipients.

Private by name and nature

Telegram users will be glad to hear that PrivateVPN employs robust AES 256-bit encryption to protect user traffic, and the OpenVPN protocol does a great job of balancing speed and security, too. If you happen to be living in a restrictive regime, PrivateVPN's stealth servers are definitely worth checking out, and may help you access the internet free of restrictions. I especially like the service's kill-switch and auto-connect features, which work in tandem to make sure you don't leak your original IP address if the VPN connection drops, and then get the VPN back up and running afterwards.

PrivateVPN is a no-logs provider based in Sweden – which isn't ideal, seeing as Sweden has some gnarly data retention laws, but users should rest assured that PrivateVPN simply doesn't have any data to pass over to authorities, should they request it. In the future, I'd also like to see the service undergo an independent audit.

Take your pick

Admittedly, PrivateVPN is one of the smaller services on this list – and that's because it's a young provider! A modest network of servers in over 63 countries is still more than enough for most users, however, and gives you plenty of choice when it comes to spoofing your location. Whether you want to unblock Telegram, catch up on the latest Netflix content from around the globe, or access previously restricted YouTube videos, PrivateVPN has you covered.

The fact that PrivateVPN's server speeds are compatible with its more established peers is an impressive feat! The service always performs well in our speed tests, and can be used to stream in HD, game online, or join video calls on your PC or mobile device. Plus, torrenting is a joy with PrivateVPN, and the service even recommends that you use its Swedish servers for optimal results!

An intuitive option

PrivateVPN is a foolproof service that anyone will be able to use – you don't have to be a VPN expert! With apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux, you'll be able to install the service on your favorite device, and reach out to an excellent team of in-house developers via email or live chat if you run into any problems. PrivateVPN allows 6 simultaneous connections, too, which should be more than enough to ensure that any device you use to access Telegram is kept secure.

Just like the other providers in this top 5, PrivateVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to subscribers, meaning you can test the service in your own time without risking your money. Alternatively, you can check out a free 7-day trial if you'd rather not part with a single dime.

Surfshark is a great value-for-money VPN for Telegram. It's super fast, you can use it on an unlimited number of devices, and you can try it out with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 2 months FREE: $2.3/mth
      83% OFF
    • 12 months: $3.99/mth
      70% OFF
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros

    • Unlimited simultaneous connections
    • Unblocks all major streaming services
    • Audit performed in 2021
  • Cons

    • One-month subscription is quite expensive
    • Fewer servers than ExpressVPN and PIA
    • Mac client isn't as fully-featured
  • Available on

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

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

Surfshark Demo

Surfshark Demo Surfshark Demo

Surfshark is one of the newer VPNs featured in this list, and is making quite the name for itself with a stack of security features and unlimited simultaneous connections. The provider represents outstanding value for money, and can make sure that you're free to use Telegram without constantly being monitored by your ISP.

A commitment to privacy

Just as you'd expect from one of our premium picks, Surfshark comes with AES 256-bit encryption, ideal for securing your connection and preventing third-party snooping. Surfshark users also get to pick from an impressive list of protocols, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2 – which gives you plenty of customizability depending on what you plan to do whilst connected to the VPN. I like that Surfshark has its own kill-switch (that you'll need to enable via the settings menu), and obfuscated (stealth) servers that can mask your VPN usage, which comes in handy if you're living somewhere where VPNs are either banned or outright illegal to use.

Surfshark's no-logs policy means that you can trust the provider to safeguard your privacy both now and in the future. The most recent independent Surfshark audit happened just a few months ago, in May 2024, and it's great to see the VPN continue to voluntarily invest in these transparent measures.

More for your money

Downloading and accessing Telegram with Surfshark is a breeze, seeing as the service can unblock all sorts of social media sites and apps – which is ideal for anyone looking to stay connected with friends, family, or coworkers. Thousands of RAM-only servers in over 100 countries also make it incredibly easy to bound over geo-restrictions and access previously blocked content. Surfshark is particularly adept at unblocking Netflix catalogs, and similarly has no trouble accessing BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and YouTube TV.

Surfshark has apps available for pretty much any device you'll have in the house, and is even compatible with smart TVs and games consoles! Plus, the provider offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which is a huge selling point (and probably the reason that a lot of new users decide to check out the service). As a result, Surfshark is a perfect fit for anyone with a lot of devices to protect, folks who want to share their subscription with friends, or anyone who's after real value for money!

Feature rich

Surfshark comes jam-packed with bonus features that'll make browsing the web, or messaging friends via Telegram, that much more secure and hassle-free. For a start, Surfshark's ad-blocker can remove pesky trackers, malware, and pop-ups, as well as phishing attempts. This comes in handy if you're sharing a device with less tech-savvy users who may not be as used to avoiding these obsequious threats. I also like Surfshark's split tunneling and MultiHop features, which any user can check out as part of their subscription.

You can take Surfshark for a test run thanks to a 30-day money-back guarantee, or make good use of the 7-day free trial available to Mac, iOS, and Android users.

Setup a VPN for Telegram: Unblocking Telegram step by step

If you are living in a country where Telegram is blocked, you will need to use a VPN to pretend to be in a different country. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you unblock and use Telegram in Iran, Russia, or anywhere else it is blocked:

  1. Choose a VPN according to your needs – all the VPNs listed in this article unblock and work with Telegram seamlessly.
  2. Download the VPN software/app onto your device.
  3. Connect to a VPN server in a country where Telegram is available.
  4. Log out of your app store and create a completely new account with a new email address. The new Google Play or Apple account will appear to be in the country where Telegram is available.
  5. Open the app store and download Telegram whilst connect to a VPN server.

If you have any problems changing your app store region, you can also choose to sideload the Telegram .APK directly onto your Android phone. Simply download the version of Telegram that you need and install it on your device. However, remember to do it with your VPN connected and to always connect the VPN before using it.

What makes a VPN good to use with Telegram?

If you live in a country where Telegram is blocked, a VPN is the only real option for accessing the app and sending messages. Not every VPN was created equal. Some are slow and insecure - which is why you must choose a service that actually works.

Below, we have included the criteria our experts used to pick the best VPNs for Telegram. That way you can see exactly why these VPNs are perfect for the job.

How do we review VPNs at ProPrivacy?

Picking the best Telegram VPN may seem easy at first, until you realize that there are hundreds of similar services out there – and that the devil, truly, is in the detail. What's more, you don't want to end up paying for a VPN that's only good at one task (like unblocking Telegram); you want it to work with an array of online services.

To ensure the VPNs we've listed all follow the above-mentioned criteria and unblock Telegram, we at ProPrivacy recommend only the VPNs that we use and test on a daily basis – for almost a decade!

We thoroughly review all of these hand-picked VPNs, and they are the ones we use in our everyday lives, too – to protect our online privacy and bypass censorship. For that reason, on this list you'll find services that implement robust encryption, with multiple protocols to choose from (OpenVPN, Lightway, and WireGuard), and privacy features that will ensure that you enjoy unparalleled levels of privacy.

Besides, every time we create a new page, each of us personally tests all of the providers on it to make sure the service works seamlessly, without any lag or data leaks. So, with each of these providers, I double-checked that:

How ProPrivacy reviews VPN services

Why you should use a VPN for Telegram

If you are living somewhere that restricts Telegram, a VPN is the ideal solution. A VPN will let you visit Telegram's website to download the software and use it, even if it is being blocked by your ISP. If you are looking for the Android version of the app, and it is not available in the Google Play Store, you can use a VPN to access it privately using F-Droid.

It is important to remember that Telegram does authenticate all users using a valid phone number. As a result, it can, in theory, help to associate non-encrypted messages with individual users (more on this later). Whether it might share this information with government agencies depends on the kind of legal pressure it is put under, on a case-by-case basis.

Of equal concern is the fact that Telegram stores this information on its servers. This makes those unencrypted messages vulnerable to hacking and surveillance. Last year, two prominent Russian activists' Telegram accounts were breached, probably by Russian security services with the cooperation of the activists' mobile provider.

If any of Telegram's servers get compromised, all 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

Can I use a free VPN with Telegram?

Although there are some free VPN services on the market, the vast majority are cowboy series that you should not trust for gaining privacy online.

Free services have been found to lie about the encryption they provide, to suffer from critical leaks, and to collect data about their uses to sell to third parties. Studies have even found that free services contain spyware and adware. Free VPNs with terrible privacy policies and insecure apps will put you at risk, which means they are not suitable for use with Telegram.

There are a few free VPN subscriptions available that you can trust if you can't afford a premium service. These do not skimp on privacy or security, but they only offer a limited free plan to allow people to try out their service with hopes of graduating you onto a full subscription. These restrictions include:

  • Fewer server locations to choose from
  • Monthly download limitations
  • Bandwidth limitations that make the VPN slower

To use Telegram safely and privately, we recommend getting a premium subscription with a trustworthy VPN for Telegram from this article. Our recommendations do not make a profit by selling their users, instead they provide watertight privacy levels and well-designed apps that have been developed to keep your online habits secure. Fortunately, you can try each of them out risk-free using their money-back guarantee.

Where is Telegram blocked?

We have included a list of countries where Telegram use is either currently blocked, or where it has been blocked at some point (and could suffer blocks again):

  • Bahrain
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Turkey 
  • Brazil
  • Sri Lanka

Is Telegram actually secure?

Despite its reputation for privacy and security, privacy and security experts are not fans of Telegram. Let's take a closer look at the app to find out if it is a secure way to send private messages...

End-to-end Encryption

To allow people to communicate securely, Telegram provides its Secret Chat feature. This uses end-to-end encryption, which means that messages sent by users are only ever accessible to them on their devices. As a result, Messages sent using Secret Chat should be secure even against hackers and Telegram Messenger LLP itself. 

This is an excellent security feature, but it is important to remember that it is not enabled by default; you must switch it on to begin using Telegram securely. Unless you activate Secret Chat, Telegram Messenger LLP and hackers could theoretically access your messages either now - or at some point in the future.

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, known as MTProto, is not IND-CCA secure, since it is possible to turn any ciphertext into a different ciphertext that decrypts to the same message. 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 of 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 a 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.


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 2024 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's consistently fast, with strong encryption on all platforms, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. TIP

    In our testing we checked that all ExpressVPN plans work for Netflix. The one year plan is the best value: three months free and a 30 day risk-free trial.

  3. NordVPN - The best mid-range Telegram VPN. It's a privacy-oriented, user-friendly service; plenty of features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  4. Private Internet Access - A secure VPN with a proven no-logs policy. Great for unblocking Telegram privately, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  5. PrivateVPN - The cheapest Telegram VPN. A no-logs feature-rich provider that's simple to setup, and which offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  6. Surfshark - The best value-for-money Telegram VPN. It's fast, with unlimited simultaneous connections, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at 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.


Arthur Cortina
on April 27, 2023
I'm from Brazil and started panicking over the telegram ban in my country. But tried NordVPN and it works fine, does the job. If you're buying, try to enter the code NORDBR for discount, at least for me it worked a few hours ago
on May 1, 2018
The proxy for telegram can be taken here or from the bot @tproxies_bot
Timothy T.
on September 21, 2017
That's a killer deal for Express VPN! Wish I would've read this before I updated my subscription....

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