As social media and internet usage continues to climb at an accelerating rate worldwide, privacy is becoming more of a concern for most users. Persistence of data means that anything posted on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter will remain somewhere in the online world even if one deletes it afterwards. Even personal messages via email or SMS can remain in company servers long after a user deletes them. Your embarrassing photos and messages can never truly disappear. One application: Wickr, is trying to change that, but it’s efforts may be useless.
Wickr is basically the Snapchat for adults. Instead of sending funny pictures to friends for a few seconds, Wickr’s aim is to be 100% secure in sending encrypted professional messages which delete themselves after a set time period. It aims to be different by providing uses for business, where the messages are encrypted in a way where even the app developers can not decipher the text. So how does Wickr plan to provide such perfect and impenetrable security? They won’t tell anyone. Because the main algorithm is being kept secret, no one can verify if their coding is really as secure as they claim. I refuse to believe any app, not just Wickr, can ever achieve perfect security.
The reason for my skepticism is that once something is sent electronically, you can not get rid of it even if it “self-destructs”. First, anyone can easily make a permanent copy of the message simply by taking a screenshot of the screen before it disappears. Not even Wickr, with the massive amounts of money it spent on its proprietary encryption technology can prevent a user from taking a screenshot, which takes only a second to take. Second, the company refuses to make its code open source, increasing the chances of security issues. Some of the most secure software have been open source, where thousands of eyes have scrutinized every line of code for bugs and resolved any issues. With Wickr, only a few programmers have looked at it, so its likely that a few bugs, glitches, and loopholes have been overlooked.
I simply do not understand why this app is spending so much time and money try to be perfectly secure, when that is just impossible. I mean, even the most simpleminded user knows how to screenshot an image. This is just one way to beat the system, and I’m sure people much more tech savvy than I am can come up with cooler ways to beat it.
In conclusion, users should follow the same common sense discretion before posting on Wickr as they would on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Snapchat. “Perfect security” is a marketing gimmick that can never be achieved.