Consumer messaging apps are routinely utilised for business purposes even if they were intended for personal usage. However, because of the legal requirements that apply to enterprises regarding data protection, corporate governance, privacy, and record-keeping, this type of messaging app is not safe for business use.
The emergence of messaging apps has been one of the most significant changes in the way we connect with one another. Over 41 million messages are transmitted using messaging apps per minute, and 3 out of every 4 smartphones today include messaging apps. So ensuring you’re messaging your professional contacts in a safe and appropriate manner is essential.
What is the problem?
Some collaboration and communication platforms are more suited for organisations than others, and not all of them are developed for the same use case. The difference between consumer and enterprise messaging apps in terms of data protection, security, and compliance makes this more apparent in some cases much riskier.
Consider two instances of modern consumer communications apps – WhatsApp and Zoom. These technologies are frequently taken into account for organisations, but they have a history of putting data at risk, falling short of the security requirements needed to guard against significant security risks, and let’s not forget their murky privacy policies.
Employees are increasingly using consumer-grade apps even to communicate with co-workers and clients, blurring the distinction between “simple to use” and secure solutions for businesses. Since they are “free” and “popular,” apps they are commonly accepted and the question is asked as to “why shouldn’t our business use them too?” – but this is where many organisations go wrong.
Just because an app is ‘encrypted’ doesn’t mean your messages are secure and safe
Then there is the infamous “End-to-End Encryption” myth, which is present in a lot of free consumer software. These apps are not the best platforms for exchanging sensitive business information or client conversations because they include so many grey areas and dubious privacy settings.
Let’s take a look at WhatsApp as an example. WhatsApp is a messaging app intended for consumers. In the past, WhatsApp has come under severe fire for failing to safeguard the privacy of its customers’ data. Additionally, the European Court of Justice found that US tech corporations, notably Facebook, do not offer their European consumers an acceptable level of personal data protection.
The communications on either end of the connection are not secured by it in any way. In any event, having encryption doesn’t automatically make something secure. After all, Facebook, a firm for which security and privacy are, at best, theoretical constructs, owns WhatsApp.
With all of this in mind it is important to mention that spyware can make its way into a mobile phone through a security bug in voice calls made through insecure apps such as WhatsApp. WhatsApp and numerous other consumer messaging systems are also used as the method for gaining access to users’ devices due to the open nature of these systems. With just a phone number we can with high levels of confidence bet that that phone number is linked to a consumer platform like WhatsApp.
With spyware, like Pegasus can immediately be transmitted. This call method is so powerful and inconspicuous that Pegasus may be installed on the phone simply by sending the user a missed call. After installation, the software would remove the call log entry so that the user wouldn’t be aware of the missed call. Due to the open nature of these apps, they are very easily used as a distribution route for hackers.
What does this mean for you then? Really quite a bit. Your organisation still has information you don’t want made public, even if it doesn’t deal with highly sensitive material. Additionally, you can come across circumstances in which your communications carry legal bearing, like when you consent to a purchase over email. That is a further rationale for the development of secure enterprise applications. They serve to provide assurance and establish clear guidelines to ensure that your data is secure.
Lack of user management leads to security issues
The likes of Telegram, Wickr and Signal are also examples of consumer messaging apps that are susceptible to illegal communications. Just because these apps have a more “trustworthy” reputation than WhatsApp, doesn’t mean that your messages are protected. These apps are frequently breached, rife with con artists and prone to malware attacks.
The information published within these applications and the company’s “hand off” approach to moderation are two of the main problems with them. Due to their unique blend of messaging and social media and their openly weak content control policy, these types of apps draw a particular type of user who may have been exposed on other, more established online platforms.
In addition to all of that, there are flaws with group messaging and its inability to scale user management lead to a number of other security issues. Companies using these apps have no idea what groups are available, even less of who is inside of them, or whether former workers still have access to information they shouldn’t. They now run the danger of having private commercial information accessed or disclosed. This is always a risk when allowing employees to use insecure and uncontrolled communications systems, putting your reputation, information and conversations at risk every time they access their phone.
Why you should use a secure enterprise alternative
It is never a smart move to use WhatsApp for business communications if security and compliance are top objectives for your company. Your staff members require a secure solution for workplace communication that enables them to get information and interact with one another anywhere at any time. With a secure communications app Salt Communications organisations can effortlessly manage users, regain control over their data, and maintain compliance.
Salt Communications provides enterprises with the highest level of security, with complete control over your communications and data at all times. After reading this article you are probably thinking there’s no way I’m still going to be using a consumer messaging app for business means. We hope you take the right step to protect you and your organisations communications.
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.