In a Nutshell: Communication methods are constantly evolving. Work emails are increasingly being replaced by chat programs and messaging services, but these programs are often not vetted by companies and can expose organizations to vulnerabilities. Wire is an internal communications solution that provides end-to-end encryption and maximum privacy, which is especially crucial in the financial services industry. The platform also includes options that allow for secure collaboration with third parties. Wire also provides a product — Wire Red — that ensures continuous, secure communication in the event of a crisis that knocks out a company’s internal infrastructure.
In today’s workforce, an email is about as effective as a telegram as far as collaborative tools go.
That’s how many workers feel, anyway.
Both modes of communication are viewed as outdated and ineffective for work projects. The telegram may actually have a slight edge on emails. As far as I can tell, workers of yore never received 100 telegrams a day with the expectation to reply to each one.
Yet, email inboxes remain a begrudgingly necessary part of the workday — particularly in the finance industry — but organizations are gravitating toward more interactive tools for quick and effective communication and collaboration in the workplace.
Rather than trudging along on a project via two-sentence emails that can dominate inboxes, workers are finding it more convenient to chat about project details through instant messaging applications and video calls.
The downside is that these chat services have often been adopted in a scattershot manner that could expose an organization to security vulnerabilities. Companies have either failed to evaluate the applications or may not even be aware that workers are using them.
Wire is an application that facilitates all the functionality of the most common office collaboration services — messaging, file sharing, video, and voice calls — but in a private, secure ecosystem. The application’s end-to-end encryption makes it an ideal way to communicate within financial organizations, where sensitive data and intellectual property may be discussed regularly.
Founded in 2014, the messaging app was originally geared toward individuals. But the company pivoted to an enterprise product as it became clear how organizations could benefit from its approach to privacy and security.
“We launched in the enterprise market about a year ago, and last week we crossed over into more than 500 enterprises that have signed up with us,” said Wire CEO Morten Brøgger. “The application is all over the place, from large and small private banks, governments, and some of the biggest global professional service providers.”
End-to-End Encryption Provides Companies with True Privacy and Maximum Security
Brøgger said one of the major trends driving Wire’s approach is the consumerization of enterprise communication and collaboration.
“We don’t really use email to communicate when we are private individuals; I can guarantee you that if I write emails to my children, they would never read it,” he said. “It’s the same in business. The way we actually get stuff done these days is from chat-based applications.”
If a bank does not provide communication tools to its employees, Brøgger said they will wind up using the most popular consumer-based apps to collaborate. These types of communications are not private and cannot necessarily be contained within the organization. He said companies can’t tell who — including potential bad actors — may be receiving information.
“So how do companies, including banks and financial institutions, increase security around confidential data?” Brøgger asked. “How do you minimize the risk of unintentional sharing or allowing someone with malicious intent to see sensitive data?”
Wire’s solution to these potential security issues is end-to-end encryption.
Brøgger said most cloud-based services only encrypt data during transit and occasionally at rest on some devices. In these cases, the cloud provider also controls the encryption keys so the provider — as well as hackers — could view customer communications. Additionally, if an account was subpoenaed, the information would be readily accessible as well.
“At Wire, we architected our infrastructure more like it’s an addition to the cloud,” Brøgger said. “We do a lot of processing, but it happens on the application on the devices. And when large files are stored in the cloud, they are encrypted with keys we don’t have access to.”
This means that, because Wire does not hold the encryption keys, the company cannot ever view the data customers are transmitting.
“Further, the way we handle encryption is that every time a Wire user sends or receives a message, the encryption keys get updated,” he said. “So, each message has its own individual encryption. I’m in a group chat with 100 people and I send a message, that would be 100 individual encryptions.”
So, even if a hacker does, by some chance, break through Wire’s complex algorithms, Brøgger said the intruding party would only be able to view that one specific message.
“This is why we’re different from other platforms and why we claim to be the most secure collaboration application for work,” he said.
Safely Collaborate with External Parties with Wire’s Guest Room Feature
Clearly, Wire has designed its application to sufficiently protect communication within an organization. But in today’s world, collaboration with outside parties is nearly essential. And Brøgger said that Wire has this aspect covered as well.
“We’ve come up with something fairly unique that we call a guest room,” he said. “I can actually set up a chat, and I can invite you to it by sending a link. You don’t have to download anything — you can just access the link through your browser.”
Third parties who accept guest room invitations gain access to the same end-to-end encryption and confidentiality as Wire Pro users. Guest room links expire after 24 hours.
Organizations that use Wire, and the third parties that collaborate via guest rooms, also remain compliant to the European General Data Processing Regulation (GDPR). Brøgger said other cloud-based chat services access users’ contacts and upload them to the cloud, which is a violation of the GDPR because users must opt-in to have their information uploaded.
“If your company breaches the GDPR, you technically could be liable for a fine of up to 4% of your annual global turnover, which for financial institutions can be huge,” he said.
Wire maintains GDPR compliance by sending an invitation to the user’s contacts, which must then be accepted by the contact before the application can access the contact’s information or upload it to the cloud.
For third-parties that may need to remain in more constant contact with an organization, Wire offers a free account with less functionality, Brøgger said. “If you have permanent partners who are using Wire, but you’re not in the organization, you can download the free version and connect and collaborate with all the security of the enterprise users.”
Wire Red Provides Financial Institutions with Continuity of Communication During a Crisis
The looming threat of a large-scale cyberattack is an ongoing concern for many organizations, particularly financial institutions.
Brøgger said these attacks can not only expose sensitive user data, but they can also completely disrupt a company’s internal communication infrastructure.
“After an attack, a lot of these companies could not use any internal communication,” he said. “They could not send emails, they could not log on to their systems, they could not use internal phones, so it became very difficult for them to figure out how to actually work together to solve any problems.”
Most of these companies go about 10 days without access to their internal communication systems, Brøgger said, and they spend three to five days figuring out how to communicate. Many resort to using unsecure emails or chat apps that are not GDPR-compliant.
Many of the companies have reported losses of hundreds of millions of dollars over those 10 days, he said.
Wire’s solution to the challenges of remaining in contact in the aftermath of a cyber attack is Wire Red. The product offers all the same functionality as Wire Pro, but it also “guarantees business communication continuity and fast recovery when your network is compromised or unavailable,” according to the company website.
“Wire Red is like the red phone on the middle of the desk — it always works,” Brøgger said. “If we have a crisis, we pick it up and save the world.”
Wire Red provides full support for crisis communication and recovery, according to the Wire website. Users can send messages to small groups or the entire company, track availability, and provide updates to team members. Messaging, conference calls, video conferencing, and file sharing are all available, as well as custom integrations and bot services.
The functionality is made possible because Wire Red comes with pre-provisioned accounts for everyone in the organization, and for groups set up for specific teams, such as executives, operations managers, communication professionals, and more.
Wire and its diverse suite of products provide the organizations of today with the tools necessary to communicate and collaborate in an efficient and secure manner.