Post-Snowden, Security Is No Longer Just a Feature

New communications and messaging products like Telegram have user and data security as their defining quality.
Vincent RyanMarch 4, 2014

When Edward Snowden leaked documents about the extent of U.S. government spying, he probably didn’t foresee that he would change the market for enterprise security applications. But in a way he has. According to a report in CIO Journal, a new generation of smartphones and messaging apps are coming to market that “are conceived around the idea of privacy and security.” They herald what could be a big change for business and consumer markets: communications devices and apps that have as their primary capabilities and selling points the ability to keep calls and texts confidential.

A screen from Wickr's app. security Snowden

A screen from Wickr’s app.

One of three examples CIO Journal cites is an app called Telegram Messenger, which Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov is backing. Durov told TechCrunch that “The No. 1 reason for me to support and help launch Telegram was to build a means of communication that can’t be accessed by the Russian security agencies.” TechCrunch says Telegram Messenger is now the top free app in 46 countries. (Soon after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Telegram was downloaded 8 million times on Apple’s App Store.)

Another example of the new thinking is a startup called Wickr, which has developed an app for sending encrypted, self-destructing messages.  It’s  marketing tagline is “Leave No Trace.” The third example is an Android-based smartphone from Boeing. The phone, Boeing Black, will be marketed to government agencies and contractors. The phone “encrypts communications and wipes all data if someone tampers with the case,” says CIO Journal.

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Boeing Black, according to Reuters, could have prevented a government leak that occurred recently when a senior U.S. State Department officer and the ambassador to Ukraine apparently used unencrypted cellphones and their conversation  became public.

Source: Secret Phones and Messaging Apps Are Taking Off – The CIO Report – WSJ