Ephemeral communication is fast becoming a feature of both consumer and enterprise messaging solutions. Originally pioneered by consumer-based messaging products like Wickr Me and Snapchat, it’s risk-reducing benefits now a table stakes feature for enterprise collaboration tools like Wickr Pro and Wickr Enterprise, as well. What is ephemeral communication? And should your enterprise encourage its adoption?
How Ephemeral Communication Works
Ephemeral communication is communication that disappears. In the physical world, an example of ephemeral communication would be the spoken word. Ephemeral messaging solutions offer the same type of communication in the virtual world. With ephemeral messaging, a sender sends a message to a recipient; after the recipient views that message, it is automatically deleted from both devices. This keeps sensitive communications away from prying eyes, especially if the ephemeral messaging solution also deletes that message from the messaging server. (Most enterprise ephemeral solutions do.)
Some ephemeral communication solutions automatically delete a message when it is read. Others delete a message a set amount of time after the message is read or received. Still others let network administrators configure how and when messages are deleted. Most enterprise ephemeral solutions also make it difficult, if not impossible, to take screenshots of, forward, or copy protected communications.
How messages are deleted depends on the solution. Some use simple file deletion methods; others use more secure file shredding schemes. For added security, many solutions, such as Wickr Pro, also include end-to-end encryption of all communications.
Ephemeral Communication = Stronger Security
The primary reason enterprises turn to ephemeral communication is security. With ephemeral messages, there is less risk of unauthorized users accessing data on user devices or network servers. There simply aren’t any messages to access: they’re automatically deleted and not stored anywhere on a company’s network or devices. From a policy perspective, ephemeral communication solutions help support and enforce a company’s data retention policy.
This also helps to reduce the potential downside of any company data breaches. Even if a malicious actor breaches the network, there are no stored communications to access or steal. This both minimizes the attractiveness of breaching a particular system and minimizes the data that can be affected during a breach.
Ephemeral Communication Can Be Compliant Communication
It is a misconception that organizations faced with internal policies or government regulations requiring them to archive electronic communications are unable to use ephemeral messaging solutions. While few if any consumer-grade ephemeral messaging solutions support it, some enterprise-grade solutions provide centralized archival capabilities. Some are even flexible enough where they are capable of integrating with existing enterprise retention and E-Discovery platforms.
Mobile Messaging Requires Ephemeral Communication
The increased security inherent in ephemeral communication is especially important in this era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). According to research firm Clutch, 64% of employees use their own personal devices at work. Ephemeral communication provides an extra layer of security when these personal devices are used outside of network control.
As more and more employees use their own computers, phones, and tablets for business communications, the risk of stolen data increases. With traditional messaging solutions, when a device is lost or stolen, all of the past communications stored on that device are vulnerable to theft. If the device employs an ephemeral communication solution, however, all messages are automatically deleted when read. That means there are no messages or other communications stored on the device, and nothing for malicious actors to access if the device is stolen.
Enterprises employing ephemeral messaging can be more comfortable embracing a BYOD policy — and thus can permit more workers to use their own devices for company communications.
Ephemeral Messaging Is Cleaner Messaging
Everyone knows how easy it is to develop an overly cluttered inbox. Our propensity to store old messages “just in case” we need them results in a profusion of unnecessary messages and inboxes filled to overflowing. Productivity is key and being more proactive with a secure way of communicating will only help increase efficiencies where needed.
(Also see our recent post on Ripping Off the Email Band-Aid with More Secure Communication)
The reality is that people don’t need to keep copies of every communication they make — especially those received weeks, months, or even years in the past. If users can’t be relied on to clean their own messaging history, then ephemeral messaging will do the cleaning for them. By automatically deleting all messages when read, there’s nothing left to fill up users’ inboxes.
Ephemeral messaging helps employees manage their communications histories, which makes for a more efficient workplace. It also forces workers to view all their communications as immediate and treat them with the necessary importance.
Wickr — For Enterprise Ephemeral Communication
Wickr Pro combines strong end-to-end encryption with ephemeral communication and compliance capabilities for the ultimate secure communications solution. Wickr’s ephemeral communication capabilities let you control how text messages, voice and video communications, files, and live collaboration sessions are automatically deleted from end user devices, while it’s compliance capabilities ensure that corporate governance and regulatory needs are met. Contact us to learn more about how Wickr’s ephemeral communication works.