A decade of Securing Communications

What a thrill to share the last decade with you! This year is marked in bold for everyone at Salt Communications. We will be marking our 10-year business anniversary and a decade crammed full of achievements in 2023. Wow, what an experience we have had!

Ten years ago this month saw the first line of code ever written on the now, award winning secure communications solution developed by Salt Communications (then, SaltDNA!).

Ten years is an eternity on the Internet’s time scale. Numerous apps and services enter the picture during this time frame and exit it just as fast. Therefore, the tenth anniversary is not only a significant milestone but also a sign of durability.

Salt Communications, of course, has evolved over the past ten years; it has grown from a start-up that operated out of a small office to a reputable company that provides a trusted secure communication solution to some of the largest and most influential organisations across the globe. Attracting thousands of users to its secure messaging system, and is advocated by influential institutions like BAE Systems and Mishcon De Reya. 

Evolution of the Salt logo over the past decade

Why the need for Secure Communication is stronger than ever 

The urgent need for secure chat communication drove the development of the first Salt Communications version ten years ago. At that time, SMS was starting to lose ground to early mobile messenger programmes like WhatsApp as the preferred method of mobile communication. However, there were significant security flaws in the services that were offered. For instance, with very rudimentary technological knowledge, it was feasible to read transmitted messages in a public Wi-Fi network.


One of the early developments of the user interface in the Salt Communications app 

The circumstances have now changed for the better in terms of security. For instance, several messengers now use end-to-end encryption (although that in itself is never enough – that’s where we come in!). However, the threat now comes directly from chat services rather than just hostile outside parties. Tech corporations are particularly interested in gathering user data via messaging apps in order to combine it with data sets from other sources and create detailed user profiles, which are highly profitable when it comes to selling targeted ads. This is because user data has become a significant commercial commodity and consumer messaging apps are so widely used on a global scale. 

Events that have proven the importance of Salt Communications over the past decade

There has been an ever increasing need for secure communication across a range of industries over the years. For example, cyber attacks directed at Government officials and offices have been on the rise. Hackers are after their personal, professional and confidential information. From data breaches to phone hacking and communications interception, Government figures have become a prime target for hackers. US President Donald Trump was quoted in an interview with The New York Times in January 2017 that he still uses an “old, unsecured Android phone”, which he carried around the White House. The phone in question was a 2012 Samsung Galaxy S3, a phone so old that it would no longer receive the latest security updates or major software releases – a piece of technology which of course represents a major security threat. 

Mobile communications also present major privacy challenges for the legal industry. In 2023, a New York Biglaw firm suffered a cybersecurity incident that shut down its network and resulted in staff having to use personal email accounts and WhatsApp for 48 hours in order to keep lines of communication open with their clients. Not only is this a serious issue from a security perspective but trying to log all of the communications that took place on these personal accounts to ensure the firm’s document retention policy is followed is equally challenging. Salt’s safe haven network, running outside of the firm’s network, could have kicked in like a back-up generator at the point of attack and the lawyers & clients transitioned seamlessly onto the Salt application. Everything that was communicated could also have been exported and logged into the firm’s DMS from the Salt application ensuring the retention of information.

Another instance occurred in 2016 proving the effect of not having a protected network when Chinese traders fraudulently traded using nonpublic market-moving information that was stolen from two well-known law firms in New York, earning over $3 million in unauthorised profits. During the attack malware was allegedly installed on the networks of the law firms, identities that gave access to all email accounts at the companies were compromised, and dozens of gigabytes of emails were copied and sent to off-site web pages. And these are just a few of the incidents that we were able to see/that the company found out about. 

As you may be aware many organisations fall into the habit of using consumer messaging apps such as WhatsApp for their daily communications. WhatsApp protects themselves by stating: “You provide us, all in accordance with applicable laws, the phone numbers of WhatsApp users and your other contacts in your mobile address book on a regular basis, including for both the users of our services and your other contacts.” 

Due to organisation’s reliance on technology for their daily operations, having a safe haven network is extremely important. A prime example of this was the Maersk Cyber Attack which proved how malware can hit companies of any size. It’s critical to understand that Maersk’s systems were not hacked just because they were a huge, multinational corporation. Instead, they just so happened to be interacting with the initial target, and because Maersk’s systems weren’t patched against the known vulnerability, they were automatically infected.

Immediately after the initial attack, Maersk noticed the malware was spreading throughout their whole worldwide network and decided to immediately shut down all of their systems. All tracking activities and the accompanying logistics were offline for three days, which inevitably resulted in significant shipping delays. Nearly 50,000 endpoints were affected overall, along with thousands of servers and apps spread across 600 facilities in 130 different countries. Maersk CEO, Soren Skou was very honest in that the Maersk senior executives relied upon WhatsApp on their personal phones to run the company when all the systems were down. The bottom line is that you should always have a safe haven communications network to fall back on when everything else fails – which is a key use case from some of our biggest customers over the past decade. 

Salt Communications user interface today

Where we are now 

Here we are thanks to all of our customers! Some of the biggest enterprises in the world have implemented Salt Communications across the globe to safeguard their most sensitive real-time communications. 

As a provider of a unified technology platform, Salt is constantly working to enhance its offering and give customers capabilities that will help keep their communications secure. 

Meet the team ten years on  

Our expansion over the past decade has been highly successful due to our ever growing team. With the company growing throughout the years it has made it possible to recruit the best talent both locally and overseas. Our team always strives for the best possible innovative product and service, as well as becoming a top global Cybersecurity firm. 

Since 2013, a lot has changed. Yet none of it would be possible without Salt’s core engine, which consists of our loyal clients, our skilled staff, and those who have propelled this sector of the economy towards technological advancement and growth.

In light of this, we would like to thank you all on our 10th anniversary. We appreciate your participation in our journey, enabling us to share yours too!

To celebrate this milestone we are offering an extended free trial! For more information email info@saltcommunications.com 

About Salt Communications 

Salt Communications is a multi-award winning cyber security company providing a fully enterprise-managed software solution giving absolute privacy in mobile communications. It is easy to deploy and uses multi-layered encryption techniques to meet the highest of security standards. Salt Communications offers ‘Peace of Mind’ for Organisations who value their privacy, by giving them complete control and secure communications, to protect their trusted relationships and stay safe. Salt Communications is headquartered in Belfast, N. Ireland, for more information visit Salt Communications. 

References:

https://www.baesystems.com/en/home

https://www.mishcon.com/

https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-digit/submission/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-blackberry/

https://saltcommunications.com/news/secure-communications-leader-saltdna-announce-rebrand-as-salt-communications/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/01/06/the-past-present-and-future-of-messaging/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/26/trump-android-samsung-phone-security-hacks

https://saltcommunications.com/news/the-alarming-risks-for-legal-firms-cybersecurity/

https://www.digitalguardian.com/blog/cost-malware-infection-maersk-300-million

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/three-chinese-charged-with-hacking-law-firms-and-stealing-insider-trading-data/

https://www.ft.com/content/785711bc-7c1b-11e7-9108-edda0bcbc928

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