Determining the effectiveness of security features in a messaging app can be quite confusing as well as hard to keep track of. Without using technical jargon, the central issue can be best summed up by the following questions:
What does your business need out of the messenger? Why do you need improved security in your communications?
The main goal of this discussion is not to determine which messenger offers the best security features. Instead, we would rather assist you in thinking precisely about the level of security you need while considering certain technical standards.
We all know that for easy and quick communication, instant messaging is a lot more convenient than SMS text messaging. It’s also more secure than email. Using a secure messaging app, you get to safely exchange confidential information with clients, employees, and co-workers. It allows you to exchange information without compromising the data.
But the question is: what do we mean by secure messaging? Generally, it means that messages get encrypted before they are sent from your device. For those not familiar with the term, ‘encrypted’ means concealing data via coding manipulation. When a message is encrypted, it cannot be read by any person other than the one intended to receive it. The message will remain concealed even if it is intercepted during the exchange.
There are also some messenger apps that come with self-destruct functionality. These apps let you send messages which are then automatically deleted as soon as they are read. Similarly, another common functionality is the anti-screenshot interface that does not display the message as well as the sender’s name on one screen. These apps are also capable of detecting if the screenshot of a message is taken and notify the sender.
Even though no messenger app can be claimed to be completely foolproof, a business must keep a strong check and should take measures to improve their security.
Commonly Targeted Apps
The most commonly attacked apps are usually the ones that deal with a lot of sensitive data. The attackers usually use this data either against the users or the business itself. The hackers attack these apps and disable their security. All the key security features of the applications are either modified or disabled which allows for the theft of sensitive data. Another way the vulnerability of apps to cyber threats is increased is through chats. We know that chat is commonly found in a variety of mobile apps and not just e-commerce or banking. That is why it is imperative for your business to make your messengers and chats both reliable and secure. Depending on the use of the messenger, the last thing any business would want is to send the data and information unencrypted. For the same reason, messengers that encrypt by default and only support encrypted communication are worth looking into.
Not every user understands the importance of encrypted messages. When a messenger doesn’t encrypt by default and instead allows only a special encrypted mode, there is a chance for non-secure correspondence. Users can easily mistake sending unprotected messaged with encrypted ones and may continue doing so without even realizing it.
Often times, this issue may also arise due to some failure of the service. When the connectivity becomes a problem, a few messenger apps may offer an unencrypted ‘fallback’ option for messages instead of waiting until the encrypted message can be delivered.
Enterprise Messaging Apps vs. Consumer Messaging Apps
In order to analyze the security risks better, let us divide the messenger apps into two major groups: enterprise messaging apps and consumer messaging apps.
Not to mention, the security risk is usually related to either feature of a certain app, improper use of a platform or the legal regulations for some specific industry.
Wickr, Signal, and Telegram are popular messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption, making them a top choice among business users who want to have an easy and quick solution to their security problem related to communication.
When you have a secure messenger in place for your employees or business, it can serve as an encrypted collaboration platform. Secure messengers allow users to have protected conference calls along with the sharing of documents with other team members.
Some of the messenger apps like Wire allow creating group chats that let users send messages and share files and links with other users securely. The app also allows users to set a timer so that messages are only available for a particular time until they are deleted permanently.
Similarly, there are messenger apps that come with contact verification. They help you to be certain that no user outside your intended group of recipients views your conversation. The feature allows you to confirm the recipient’s exclusive cryptographic ‘fingerprint’, including their identity.
Encrypted Communication is Often Too Complicated
Even though encrypted communication is the most recommended and sensible way to ensure the security of messenger apps, often times the option is too complicated for common or mainstream use. Only a few approachable apps like Signal and WhatsApp are actually no-brainer in terms of digital privacy. Otherwise, not every messenger app is equipped with this level of security.
Apps that support end-to-end encryption with all of their security-oriented features like identity-confirming safety numbers, disappearing messages, secure chat apps, rightfully provide complete peace of mind.
As the adage goes, we don’t have anything as perfect security. That is why it is highly advised to use these measures to keep your messenger apps secured at all times. After all, feeling invincible can easily get your business reputation and confidentiality in trouble.
However, we cannot say that encryption acts like magic. After all, you cannot trust every person you communicate with. This means that even encryption can put your business confidentiality in danger. Indeed, it is better and safer than all other traditional things like email or Slack.
Why Do You Need Practices to Ensure the Security of Your Messenger?
When a messenger app is found with a bug or if it is not encrypted end-to-end, it gives attackers the ability to not only spread malware but also to remove or modify parts of conversations between different users, including pictures, text, links and other data.
When a security app lacks adequate safety measures, it exposes the app and its users to fraud and various other malicious attacks.
Today, almost all the security apps are constantly adding new features on their app platforms that result in the sharing and storing of even more private and sensitive user information. This may include e-commerce features like conversation-based services, payments and the ones between consumers and insurance firms.
The sharing of this critical information has made it even more important to secure these apps. Also, a security breach directly affects the reputation of a business. A security breach can result in a lack of consumer trust, resulting in less adoption and use.
Another important reason is that once an attacker gets access to a computer or a device, he or she may send any password-stealing virus. These kinds of viruses steal all the passwords and useful information and then send them back to the attacker in a number of ways.
This is a no-brainer that once an attacker has your passwords and account information, he/she can easily impersonate or hijack a co-worker and client. If the attacker is successful, he/she can attack every other individual who can send as well as retrieve messages to the first victim.
All of this makes instant messenger security inevitable. An attacker may also steal the information through log files. To give you a clear idea, log files are created and stored to send instant messages by means of instant messaging service and all these files can easily be sent back to the attacker so that he/she can easily access them.
Secure All Communication between the Server and the Client
Ensuring the proper security of communication between the server and the client is highly important for apps that must comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards. All these requirements vary depending on the industry and the state. For instance, consumer apps developed by banks often fail to comply with different guidelines given by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council – FFIEC as well as Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – GLBA.
How to Ensure Security of Communication between the Server and the Client?
Any technology that allows apps to exchange data with servers can also be vulnerable. Considering all the mobile apps that are professionally developed, developers make sure that TSL/SSL is set up properly, use trusted CA certificates along with correctly configured chains, and pin and attach those certificates to SSL. On top of that, an extra level of security can also be achieved if sensitive data is properly encrypted before delivering it via TLS.
Low Messenger Security is a High Risk for Businesses
Today’s latest technology has given unprecedented ease to different businesses for communicating and taking care of important business tasks which helps in finding better clients. After all, when you have the ability to fully connect with the work while using a tablet or Smartphone, you don’t have to be in the office to perform routine business tasks.
To fully avail of these benefits, it is essential to ensure that data is protected. Considering spy apps and open Wi-Fi, hackers now have many avenues with which they can fully gain access to confidential information and messages.
This is why using a messenger app that doesn’t offer encryption by default is a big risk for your business. The majority don’t pay attention to messenger security and only take steps to protect the data that is ‘at rest’. In simple words, they only secure the data which is stored on the hard drive, computer or in the cloud.
Some small businesses use firewalls and spam filters along with other relevant products to shield the stored information within their own network. The problem comes when the same information and data are transmitted from one person to another via text messages, an app or an email.
After all, securing only your side of the network is ineffective. The recipient should also use a secured network. In short, the more confidential information you and your recipients deal with, the more you are likely to be a top target for attackers.
Hackers today not only try to break through the firewall but they also have this ability to interrupt communication over text and email using your and your recipients’ network connections. Also if you are sharing any confidential data, there is a very good chance that hackers will use malware to read it.
When hackers gain access to business’ unencrypted messages, you may end up dealing with exposure or costly data theft. In other words, your business will damage its relationships with clients and other business partners, especially if the stolen data also includes personal information of your clients.
This negative publicity and recovery cost result in severe harm to your fledgling brand. Quite simply, keeping your business messenger unsecured or unencrypted isn’t worth the risk.
If you too are using a messenger app for your business, make sure that your data is always kept safe from hackers who constantly attempt to intercept information from businesses. Businesses should never neglect taking additional security measures and implementing them throughout the organizations.
If access to messaging apps and device is not protected with privacy features including strong passwords, all encryption will certainly go to waste. Meeting the cybersecurity needs of your company is a constantly evolving process. It is the measure that requires consistent vigilance by business owners.
This is to ensure that you don’t create opportunities for malicious people to hack your information. For all these reasons, make sure that you work only with the most specialized software development professionals. By leveraging the expertise of professional developers, you can have this confidence that the data of your company as well its future is kept safe.