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Free Encrypted Video Calls on the “World’s Most Private Messaging App” Launched By Skype Founders

Wire-messaging-app

It’s been called the “world’s most private messaging app”; Wire is the latest most talked about messaging app which rolls out end-to-end encryption for all its conversation content. While many other messaging apps also offer some form of encryption for its content, Wire prides on being the only security-centric messaging app to bring encryption to nearly all mediums, including text messages, voice calls, video calls, photos, sketches, GIFs and emojis.

“Video calls have been the top requested feature from our users,” Janus Friis, co-founder and executive chairman at Wire.

Wire had previously launched its first version of its app since December 2014, but with limited hype as it was only offering similar services to other communication apps at the time. Wire has been gaining notable mentions in the news lately after the company announced on Thursday that it has beefed up its encrypted messaging service with encryption in various new channels of communication. The company emphasized on its Privacy page that Wire does not hold the decryption keys and their software contains no backdoor. The company maintains that data belongs to customers, and Wire will have no access to it.

 

The team at Wire

Wire

Wire is based in Zug, Switzerland and compliant with Swiss and European Union data protection laws. With a 50-person start-up mostly made up of engineers, Wire’s co-founders are made up of many notable heads, including “product and technology leaders” from Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and other companies with a deep experience in tech. Janus Friis himself is a Danish entrepreneur who was a co-founder of Skype, first released in 2003, which was later sold to a series of owners and is now a unit of Microsoft Corp. Friis’ involvement in Wire began as an investment in the start-up through Iconical.com, although it has yet to disclose how much funding it has received from the backing it receives from Iconical.

Wire’s main development team also boasts various experienced heads, such as its co-founder and chief executive officer, Jonathan Christensen, who worked at Skype from 2006 to 2012; lead product design chief, Priidu Zilmer, who once headed up design teams at Vdio and Skype; and chief technology officer, Alan Duric, veteran of Norwegian voice-of-Internet pioneer Telio along with various other key hires from Apple, Microsoft and Nokia.

 

Ultra private. No ads. All free.

Wire Privacy

Source: Wire

The open-source app was launched over a year ago, and its end-to-end encryption for all conversation content is available across desktop, iOSAndroid, and OS X. Since its launching, the relatively small start-up is fighting hard against other messaging apps in attracting active users. Other fierce competitors such as WhatsApp (1 billion active monthly users), Kik (200 million), Telegram (100 million) and Snapchat (100 million active daily users), and makes it harder for Wire to challenge other apps who have loyal followings. While Wire does not report its monthly user figures, a spokesperson told VentureBeat that it has “built up a loyal and very engaged audience”, and Friis confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg Business that Wire has notched up around 150,000 to 200,000 new user sign-ups per month. Nonetheless, referring to Wire’s Google Play data, it was noted that Wire’s Android app alone has been downloaded between 500,000 and one million times. According to VentureBeat, if iOS and desktop users were factored in, this would amount to approximately a few million new registrations since its launch.

A key selling point for Wire is that it protects its users from targeted advertising. Wire will not be ad-supported and data will not be sold to outside companies for advertising or any other purposes. Friis stated that Wire was never created with an advertising-based business model in mind when many other app out there are seeking to monetise users through the sale of customer data. The app is entirely free to use across all platforms, albeit a Wire representative told Ars that it may “plan to monetize through premium services in the future”.

For now, Wire’s main aim is to appeal to users through providing encryption as a way to safeguard communications not only from the prying eyes of government spies, but also as a way to shield personal information from businesses that want to mine messaging traffic to send users targeted advertising.

How Wire works

In contrast to other rival messaging apps which present encryption on only parts of a message’s journey or for a specific set of services, Wire delivers privacy protections that are always on, even when callers are using multiple devices, such as a mobile or desktop platform simultaneously. Wire relays communications through its network of cloud computers but user communications are stored, in encrypted form, on their own devices.

As mentioned, the app relies on standard, open-source encryption techniques, which allows outside technical experts to evaluate the security of its products rather than relying on trust of its developers alone. For its end-to-end encryption model, Wire is using standard encryption protocols. Ars Technica notes that Wire uses Axolotl ratchet and optimized pre-shared keys for mobile messaging, while its text messages use the Off-the-Record encryption protocol. Wire also uses WebRTC for voice, including DTLS for key negotiation and authentication as well as SRTP for encrypted media transport.

For further reading on Wire’s precise security details, click here.

 

Sources

[1] Wire

[2] International Business Times

[3] Bloomberg

[4] VentureBeat

[5] Digital Trends

[6] Reuters

[7] Inverse

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