A free app that promises to help you send surveillance-proof, self-destructing, encrypted messages has just secured $30m (£17m) in funding.
Wickr, founded in 2012, was developed by Wired 2014 speaker Nico Sell, the organiser behind the world’s largest hacker get together, Defcon. The company’s motto is Leave No Trace, and that’s exactly what Sell plans to teach the public, having already publicly rebuffed the FBI’s requests for her to create a backdoor into the app for them.
Unlike Snapchat, which proved earlier in the year to be neither self-destructing, nor all that secure, Wickr promises “military-grade encryption” it does not have the keys to, it erases unwanted files completely and requires no personal information from a user. It’s also obviously something the public wants, given one million messages are sent using the app everyday.
Sell has found some new supporters in venture capitalist Jim Breyer, options and futures exchange CME Group Inc and online games developers Wargaming. Sell told Wired.co.uk the new partners “support Wickr’s mission to bring secure, private communications to everyone and new platforms for the financial services and gaming industries”.
Many would question the validity of a totally secure communications system, with Tor Project contributor Runa Sandvik commenting this week that the public should not blindly trust socalled “privacy” apps streaming onto the market post-Snowden. However, Sell maintains that Wickr’s security is different — specifically, it exceeds the compliancy NSA demands of its own secret communications. “Our solution is different because we made encryption and security easy to use and transparent to the masses,” Sell tells us. “We don’t save any of your information to a server; we don’t know who you are, who you’re talking to or what you’re saying; it’s all encrypted and we don’t have the keys. We are a zero knowledge system and we considered security first when developing our application.” Continue reading