AWS buys encrypted messaging app Wickr

Wickr keeps communication secure as more workers shift to remote working

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is making a big splash in the encrypted messaging business with the acquisition of Wickr, a secure messaging app that’s geared toward government and military use. 

Wickr uses end-to-end encryption, which means only people on either end of a conversation can decrypt each other’s messages. The app also allows users to set their messages to self-destruct after a chosen period for additional security.

“AWS is offering Wickr services effective immediately, and Wickr customers, channel, and business partners can continue to use Wickr’s services as they do today,” AWS VP Stephen Schmidt announced.

The timing of the deal is interesting too. Amazon just bought a secure messaging app that serves government and military organizations while it’s embroiled in a legal dispute over the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract.

“The need for this type of secure communications is accelerating,” wrote Schmidt, the company’s VP. “With the move to hybrid work environments, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprises and government agencies have a growing desire to protect their communications across many remote locations.”

“Today, public sector customers use Wickr for a diverse range of missions, from securely communicating with office-based employees to providing service members at the tactical edge with encrypted communications.” 

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Wickr has a dark side, as it’s been tied to the drug trade and other illicit industries in the past. Plus, the political climate has pressured tech firms, including Wickr, to break their end-to-end encryption to preserve national security.

It remains to be seen if Amazon has any plans to change Wickr in any way. In its initial press release, AWS seems content leaving the messaging app as is, especially amid the wave of remote and hybrid working arrangements.  

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