Wire Keeps Workplace Collaboration Secure and Operators Happy
While some collaboration platforms want to keep you happy, Wire wants to keep you secure. And that should make you very happy, chief revenue officer Rasmus Holst said. Four years ago Wire was a zero-revenue company that gave away its product; now it counts five of the seven G7 countries as customers along with major financial firms.
“We feel we’ve hit the market at the right time,” Mr. Holst said. “Where Slack is making everyone happy with collaboration we’re making everyone secure.”
Wire’s architecture is built on end-to-end encryption. Messages, file sharing, video conferencing, for every use the system generates one key message per device and user. Information only lives at the endpoints. There is no central piece or large data repository which can be held for ransom.
As we hopefully emerge soon from the pandemic, society will have to come to grips with a $6 trillion security problem, Mr. Holst said. Data sovereignty is a huge topic for banks and governments. Zero-trust architecture will play a significant role in that process, he added, likening the difference in approaches to protecting $1 million by putting it all in one safe or putting $1 each in one million different safes where the providing company doesn’t see the keys and doesn’t have them.
It’s a common statement in security – make the process so hard the criminals move on to the next target. Make it so complex the ROI isn’t worth it, Mr. Holst said.
At the onset of the pandemic providers rushed out a range of solutions but the control was lacking. Users didn’t necessarily control the network and often didn’t control the end device. Transport wasn’t controlled and that left information out there in places out of a company’s control.
The next cycle of development assumes remote work is a more permanent state. Security has to adapt to protect information beyond the usual corporate firewall. Now you might have to. Send data over one network to an employee using a device from another provider. Industry needs an architecture that can properly protect data in such an environment.
Wire cofounder Alan Duric is an early pioneer of VoIP technologies and a key figure in the standardization of speech codecs behind the WebRTC standard that underpins real-time communication products. Mr. Holst said the fact that the WebRTC standard is built into seven billion devices is Mr. Duric’s proudest achievement.
The one thing he would do differently is include system interoperability, Mr. Holst said. Why can’t we seamlessly move between different platforms that can be linked together? Mr. Duric has been working with international bodies to establish a group focusing on end-to-end encryption and system federation. Key generation efficiency at scale and that movement between systems are important issues to address. Some big players are behind the issue so hopefully there is some movement coming.
“Federating a data sovereignty instance in the US with one in Germany is next the big thing from us because that enables all these big banks to efficiently operate,” Mr. Holst explained.
Even within single companies there is often the instance of unique software solutions in each separate geography and they need to federate if they are to collaborate. That is stage one, Mr. Holst said. Then it’s federation between different vendors.
There are exciting new applications for Wire’s technology being identified all the time, Mr. Holst said. A Swiss bank is using it for digital identities within an app that verifies digital signatures. It’s causing providers and industry to look at digital signatures in a new way.