Last week, AWS announced the acquisition of encrypted messaging provider Wickr in a company post by CISO Stephen Schmidt. Wickr provides collaborative communication services, such as messaging, content sharing, and video and voice communications, but it’s primarily known for its privacy features.
Encrypted communications and collaboration seem like a savvy acquisition in 2021, as the technology will help AWS expand its enterprise and federal offerings.
Enterprise encrypted communications
Encryption and privacy are topics that are getting a lot of recent attention. “Privacy is a basic human right” is the new mantra from tech CEOs. I’ve heard it, or variations of it, from Satya Nadella at Microsoft, Chuck Robbins at Cisco, Tim Cook at Apple, and others. While the statement seems irrefutable, the interpretation and implications vary widely.
It is easy to understand privacy in a personal sense. We all have information that we prefer not to share. It might be age, weight, medications, income, or any number of other concerns. It’s a basic concept that, as individuals, we control our information. Even if we share private information with a doctor or attorney, we have the expectation that they will also keep it private.
But things get more complicated at work. If an employee arrives at work late, that’s relevant information to a manager. Is it any different if a remote employee checks email late? To whom does “privacy is a right” apply to when the employee is accessing company data or company systems using company software or services? Employees should assume that corporate communications are subject to monitoring, including highly automated technologies that track usage, sentiment, education level, and policy compliance.
However, communications surveillance becomes much more difficult when encrypted end-to-end or when they are automatically destroyed. That’s what Wickr offers, and this is a rare feature in enterprise communications. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is not a crime. If privacy is a basic right, then everyone deserves the right to encrypt their communications, and there is nothing suspicious about restricting who can see or hear private conversations.
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