Is Wickr secure? How the encrypted instant messaging app works

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You’ve almost certainly used an instant messaging app at some point. In fact, you probably use one daily, and chances are you use apps like Facebook Messenger, which isn’t secure or private.


Fortunately, secure alternatives that keep your messages private and don’t collect or sell your personal data exist. Wickr is among them. So what is Wickr and how does it work? Is Wickr safe? How does it compare to other encrypted messaging apps?


What is Wickr and how does it work?

Wickr was developed in 2012 by a group of New York-based cybersecurity and online privacy experts. The app was first released on iOS and later on Android, while the Windows version hit the market in 2014. Wickr is now available on all the aforementioned platforms, as well as Mac and Linux.

There are three main versions of Wickr: Wickr Me, Wickr Pro, and Wickr Enterprise.

Wickr Me was designed for individuals, but it allows both individual and group messaging (no more than 10 members), one-to-one audio and video calls, as well as file sharing. Wickr Pro is geared towards businesses, so groups can have up to 500 members and up to 70 users can participate in audio and video calls and share large files. The highly customizable Enterprise version offers additional functionality and is more suitable for larger organizations.

The basic version of Wickr is free. Silver, Gold, and Platinum cost $4.99, $9.99, and $25.00 per month per user, respectively.

Wickr Security: How safe and private is this app?

At a glance, Wickr looks, feels, and functions just like any other messaging app: it lets users exchange text messages, photos, videos, and files. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a robust and complex Zero Trust cybersecurity infrastructure, with advanced cryptography and plenty of security features.

Wickr is 256-bit end-to-end encrypted and uses multiple layers of encryption to protect user data and privacy. Messages, files, audio and video calls are all encrypted locally – a new random key is used each time. Only the public key is transmitted to Wickr’s servers, while the private key is stored on the user’s device.

In other words, if you send a message through Wickr, no one will be able to read it except the person you’re communicating with (no, even Wickr doesn’t have access to your messages). So if a cybercriminal were to target your Wickr account, it would literally take them all the time in the world to break in, because it would take them billions of years to crack a single key.

Even if you don’t know anything about encryption, Wickr’s protocol seems bulletproof, but arguably just as crucial in terms of security is the fact that all messages sent through the app are ephemeral; they disappear and self-destruct. You can choose when. More importantly, Wickr’s Secure Shredder destroys them in such a way that they can never be recovered or seen again.

Of course, Wickr also uses ordinary security mechanisms (for lack of a better term), such as multi-factor authentication and screenshot detection. Wickr does not collect user data or store communication metadata. It collects some telemetry data, but even that can be disabled in the settings.

To use the basic version of Wickr, you don’t need a phone number or an email address. All you need to do is download the app, create a unique username and password, and that’s it. Obviously, you won’t be able to recover your account if you lose your password or username, but you can always create a new one.

As mentioned above, other versions of Wickr are paid, so you’ll need to provide the app with some personal information to use them. But if you opt for Silver, Gold or Platinum, be sure to use a secure email service to register and maintain your privacy.

Transparency makes all the difference when it comes to privacy-focused software, and Wickr excels in that regard. The application is not open source, but its crypto code is also available on Github. On top of that, Wickr allows third-party audits and sends transparency reports. The reports, dating back to 2013, are available on the app’s official website.

Wickr also runs a rather generous bug bounty program, so if you manage to find any security flaws or vulnerabilities in its systems, you can get paid up to $100,000.

Obviously, Wickr is about as secure as a messaging app can get. Is there a catch? There’s no catch per se, but it’s important to note that Wickr was acquired by Amazon Web Services in 2021. That’s not to say that Wickr is compromised in any way – there is no evidence of this – but with Amazon being what it is, it would be good to watch for any changes to its privacy policy.

And then there’s the question of the user base, or lack thereof. Around five million people have downloaded Wickr from Google Play. By comparison, WhatsApp has had over five billion downloads on the same store. Your friends probably haven’t even heard of Wickr, let alone used it, which defeats the purpose of having a messaging app on your phone.

Still, there is certainly a market for private and secure collaboration platforms.

How does Wickr compare to other encrypted messaging apps?

There would be no point in comparing Wickr to mainstream messaging apps, as it’s obviously safer and much more private than any of them. But how does Wickr compare to other secure and encrypted messaging apps?

Signal and Telegram have become hugely popular in recent years, while apps like Wire and Speech are starting to make their mark. But what Signal and Telegram have, and Wickr doesn’t, are large user bases. The thread, on the other hand, is for businesses. As for Speek, it routes all traffic through the Tor network, which provides an additional layer of security.

Wickr: private messaging for businesses and individuals

Wickr has yet to grow its user base to a point where ordinary people use it to communicate with each other, but while it may never match the popularity of WhatsApp and similar services, it could become indispensable in as a secure collaboration platform for businesses and large organizations. .

If you’re looking for an encrypted messaging app to talk with friends and family, there are a number of safe and private alternatives to consider.

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