#Wire#secure messaging#encryption#Morten Brøgger#E2EE

Wire brings secure collaboration to North America

Catherine Sturman
|Sep 4|magazine17 min read

For any organization, the need for secure messaging technologies has become increasingly vital.

With daily news coverage of data breaches, malware attacks and poor security practices across North America and globally, awareness of the risks associated with handing over confidential data has been heightened.

It is therefore imperative for businesses to take a proactive approach in enabling employees to utilize vetted, secure, modern chat-based tools. While email continues to be the main communication channel for many industries, it has also become one of the least secure and effective channels.

“If confidential information gets in the wrong hands, it almost always has a significant financial impact,” Morten Brøgger, CEO of work collaboration platform, Wire, tells us from his San Francisco office.

Establishing Wire, Brøgger has sought to build exceptional communication tools where employees can chat securely, share documents or make voice, video and conference calls, as well as undertake screen sharing in real time.

“Chat-based communication tools are rapidly taking over from email because communications need to be fast and accurate. It is now more often than not done through tools like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat,” he explains.

“Most consumer tools are free and financed through ad-based models. This inevitably means sacrificing privacy, especially if the same device is used for work, which then puts work security in jeopardy.

“By switching work conversations to chat-based tools, it would help reduce time spent on internal email by 50%. Being able to use the same secure tools for external communication would further increase efficiency and productivity.”

The breach of confidential customer information not only loses consumer trust, but also opens the doors for potential penalties from data protection agencies. With this in mind, Wire has developed a world-class end-to-end-encryption (E2EE) tool, making work faster, more efficient and more secure than working with other outdated digital tools.

“Many customers have commented how useful they find Wire’s ‘guest room’ feature. This allows them to chat and talk to external parties who don’t have Wire installed – it just works in a browser window,” says Brøgger. “The benefit they mention is being able to use the same software and security for not just internal but also external communication.

“Launching end-to-end encrypted chat, conferencing, video calls and file sharing on desktop and mobile with great user experience in just nine months is something no-one else has matched,” he adds. “For comparison, WhatsApp’s team worked on the same functionality for two years (launching a month after Wire in April 2016) and two years later still offers only 1:1 voice calls. Wire has had encrypted conference calls since its launch.”

Open source advantages

While E2EE is more commonly witnessed within consumer communications for enterprises, secure communication has become an essential focal point. Brøgger explains that corporate users had not previously had access to such an easy-to-use collaboration tool as Wire’s software.

Established in Germany, the company’s largest markets remain within the US, Canada and the European Union, where over 100,000 people in more than 200 enterprises regularly access its services. The company is bolstered by an impeccable team, with many members have worked at the likes of Skype, IBM and Cisco.

Fully adopting a 100% open-source strategy, the business remains ambitious to build communications tools of the future, in terms of functionality, security, privacy, as well as an exceptional user interface, to ensure complete transparency across its business practices.

“Wire’s focus on open source means that anyone can audit our code for quality and verify our security claims. Many have commented on that the fact that Wire believes in open source, takes transparency to heart and leads the way to push the collaboration software industry to a more secure and privacy-friendly future is important to them,” says Brøgger.

“Open source forces us to write quality code, motivates our staff, makes it easier to engage external developers and partners and simplifies building integrations.”

“Everything on Wire, by default, is protected with E2EE – only the sender and receiver can see the contents of the messages. Wire does not have any decryption keys, placing responsibility firmly on our customers. There are also no available backdoors created within the software,” he continues.

“This is a big difference from competitors like Microsoft Teams or Slack where all messages and files are available to anyone with access to the server – including the service provider or malicious actors.”

Complex regulations

Throughout its focus on driving exceptional E2EE services, Wire has, of course, had to adapt its offering towards evolving worldwide regulatory demands, such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rulings, which requires organizations servicing the European Union (EU) to publish any data breaches, providing ultimately transparency. Additionally, the rulings will also ensure that all companies serving European citizens remain open about third party tools which receive access to customer data.

By implementing a privacy by design approach, Wire has sought to go above and beyond traditional approaches to securing customer data and has gained the ability to integrate its services with other software, providing a seamless experience.

“GDPR does not just affect EU businesses, but any company in the world serving customers in the EU. A lot of these companies will not be ready in terms of protecting their customer data with encryption,” observes Brøgger. This has already been documented, with the media claiming that many US websites in particular have barred European users from accessing their services.

While some US businesses will already have most of the appropriate security measures in place, issues such as BYOD (bring your own device) and use of messaging services as mentioned above are becoming increasing prevalent across North America, and won’t be accepted under the new regulation for any business dealing with the data of EU citizens.

Becoming a frontrunner across all markets, Wire has issued a new golden benchmark through its E2EE solutions. It has now sought to support other businesses by effectively mitigating risks of potential data leaks to third party sites.

“If your organization has had a security incident then your image and trust is threatened,” says Brøgger. “Ultimately, customers and partners will try and find other places to buy or partner up where their data can be trusted.

“As privacy awareness goes up consumers will start ‘voting with their feet’ and avoiding companies with questionable security and privacy practices.”

Setting up a sales office in San Francisco, Wire’s services and capabilities are set to further grow across North America. Its new service, Wire Red, will form part of its evolution, and enable enterprises to use this service as a communication contingency plan. “Our end-to-end encryption and security by design allows for large companies to continue to conduct business as normal even when they’re in the midst of a crisis,” concludes Brøgger.