Amazon acquires encrypted app Wickr in public sector push

28 Jun 2021

Image: © Sundry Photography/Stock.adobe.com

Amazon Web Services is picking up the secure chat app popular with government workers as it pursues more public sector contracts.

Amazon has acquired end-to-end encrypted messaging app Wickr, which is popular with government workers and individual users alike.

Wickr is among a slew of encrypted messaging apps that came on the scene over the last decade, along with Signal and Telegram. It has garnered a user base among journalists, government workers, whistleblowers and the privacy conscious.

The acquisition is specifically by Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing business that continues to pursue more government contracts. It currently has thousands of contracts with various government and public sector agencies in the US and further afield.

It is currently taking legal action over the awarding of a multibillion-dollar cloud services contract from the Pentagon. Microsoft won that contract but Amazon is contesting alleged “bias” in the decision making.

The acquisition of Wickr fits into the company’s strategy for government contract work.

In a blog post announcing the deal, Stephen Schmidt, chief information security officer of AWS, said that the need for secure communication, especially among government employees, during the pandemic and remote working is “accelerating”.

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“With the move to hybrid work environments, due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic, enterprises and government agencies have a growing desire to protect their communications across many remote locations,” he said.

“Wickr’s secure communications solutions help enterprises and government organisations adapt to this change in their workforces and is a welcome addition to the growing set of collaboration and productivity services that AWS offers customers and partners.”

Wickr has amassed its own base of government clients with the US Department of Defense using its services. It provides a free version of the app to general users.

No financial terms for the deal have been disclosed. Wickr had raised more than $70m from investors.

“We’re proud to have created highly trusted, secure communication solutions for messaging, video conferencing, file sharing and more,” Wickr said in a statement.

“From our founding 10 years ago, we have grown to serve organisations across a wide range of industries, all over the world. Together with AWS, we look forward to taking our solutions to the next level for our customers and partners.”

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com