Why security should be top priority in enterprise communications

24 Jan 2019

Image: © oatawa/Stock.adobe.com

Business collaboration tools can make things more efficient, but security and privacy are still paramount.

Many businesses now use a plethora of different apps to communicate, particularly as remote working becomes more commonplace. From discussing project ideas to giving updates on your schedule, messaging apps create a simple and quick way to let those on your team know your thoughts.

While technology does bring efficiency and flexibility, many businesses are using apps that are geared towards consumers, as opposed to enterprises. Siliconrepublic.com spoke to Morten Brøgger, CEO of Switzerland-based secure collaboration platform Wire, about the sea change in enterprise communications, as well as the importance of security when discussing work matters.

The problem with consumer apps

When it comes to using less-than-secure apps for business communications, Brøgger says it is something of a “tacit acceptance” by certain organisations that workers are using consumer apps to collaborate on.

The change in how we all communicate with each other, from family WhatsApp groups to Facebook Messenger chains, has normalised this type of interaction within the workplace. Coupled with the assertion that traditional email is “too heavy and clunky”, you can see why consumer apps end up used in the office.

While modern collaboration tools are fast and transformative, certain apps can contribute to the growing issue of shadow IT in the workplace – devices that may not be under the remit of IT staff, such as personal mobile phones containing work data.     

Encrypted work messaging

Founded in 2014, Wire allows users to exchange text, voice, video and music messages, and also supports group calls and messaging. Using end-to-end encryption, instant text messages on Wire are protected using Proteus, which is based on the Signal protocol. Voice and video calls are also encrypted end to end with WebRTC.

Brøgger notes that Wire is independently audited by outside sources, so potential users can examine just how secure it is in reality. “Being open source means that people can get the code and check themselves that the system we are operating works the way it says it does. Open source drives quality and integrity.”

He describes Wire as “the new way of doing encryption”. After each message, the unique security key is updated, with the keys themselves being distributed to user devices.

The enterprise in charge of the Wire account is in control of employee accounts so if an employee leaves a job, they will not be leaving with valuable business data on their device, too. The leakage of confidential business data online is all too common these days, Brøgger added. In his view, the common denominator is usually email, which is “very insecure, normally how malware infections get into systems”.

Wire’s clients range from governments to consulting groups and even private psychotherapists, who use the service to communicate confidentially with clients. While many people would imagine encryption to be the preserve of major firms only, the increasing threat of data breaches across all kinds of businesses is changing this. Brøgger said: “Client information can mean life and death for certain companies and people.”

The general interest in privacy is also seeing an uptick in interest, Brøgger noted. “We didn’t care about privacy because we didn’t understand how it could be used against us. We’re slowly being educated.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects