Whether you work remotely or just use a team chat app to coordinate business, you need to use a secure messaging app to keep data secure.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and conduct business, with companies around the world switching to remote work arrangements.
This major shift has undoubtedly increased the demand for team chat apps and collaboration platforms, but only a select few of them can actually be considered secure. So, what are the best and most secure team chat apps?
Wickr hit the market in 2012, and though it was initially developed as a mobile chat app, it is now available on Windows, Mac, and Linux as well. There are three versions of it: Wickr Me, Wickr Pro, and Wickr Enterprise. The latter two are better suited for businesses and large organizations.
But regardless of which version you choose, you will have to pick between Basic, Silver, Gold, and Platinum options. Basic is free and good for small teams of up to 30 users. Silver, Gold, and Platinum respectively cost $4.99, $9.99, and $25.00 monthly per user, and are packed with a lot more features.
On the security and privacy front, Wickr absolutely delivers. In fact, Wickr is one of the most secure messaging apps available. It is 256-bit end-to-end encrypted and uses a new key each time a message, file, or call is encrypted. Private keys are stored on user devices, and only public keys are transmitted through company servers.
All messages sent through Wickr self-destruct after a while (you can adjust the expiration time), and cannot be accessed or recovered in any way once destroyed. Additionally, Wickr regularly sends out transparency reports and allows third-party audits, and its crypto code is publicly available.
Wire was created by a group of former Skype employees and launched in 2014. The app added end-to-end encryption two years later and reoriented itself towards businesses in 2018 when it released a collaboration solution.
Customers can choose between Wire Basic (free), Wire for Enterprise (from $7.65), and Wire for Government (you need to contact sales to get a quote). The Basic version can handle up to five users, which is obviously not enough for most businesses, so medium-sized and large teams can opt for either Enterprise or Government—the latter actually is used by governments, which speaks volumes about the app’s security.
Wire uses the Proteus encryption protocol, which is based on the Signal Protocol, to encrypt messages. Meanwhile, calls are encrypted with Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and the Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP).
Unlike Wickr, Wire is open source and its code is available on GitHub. Plus, it has been independently audited and remains compliant with frameworks such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Unless you’re really interested in cybersecurity and online privacy, you probably haven’t even heard of Wickr and Wire, but you’ve almost definitely heard of Slack, if not used to communicate with your colleagues already. Slack is popular for good reasons: it’s easy to use, pretty much never crashes, has a bunch of cool features, and is affordable. But Slack is also a fairly secure app.Slack does use encryption, but it is not end-to-end encrypted. However, Slack has a feature called Enterprise Key Management, which adds another layer of protection, and allows administrators and business owners to have more control of the data that is being shared within their organization.
Slack has several other mechanisms in place that are meant to protect an organization from breaches and intruders.
There are several other ways to secure your Slack workspace. This includes using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, managing active and invited users, and restricting access to certain channels by default.
In conclusion, Slack may not be as bulletproof as Wickr and Wire, but it is nonetheless a relatively secure collaboration platform that grants business owners significant control over internal communications
The pandemic may not be here to stay, but remote work is, which opens up a whole new world of cyber security challenges companies need to deal with.
Investing in a secure team chat app, or collaboration platform is an absolute must. For companies that deal with sensitive information, Wickr and Wire are probably the best options, as pricey as they may be. Slack and ProofHub, on the other hand, seem suitable for smaller remote teams.
But no matter which of these apps a business chooses, it is critical that employees understand how and under which circumstances an organization can be targeted by cybercriminals. Ultimately, a remote work environment can only be secured if both management and workers make a conscious effort to cultivate safe habits.