[iPhone] Send securely encrypted messages that self-destruct with WickrOctober 24, 2012 2 Email article | Print article
I’m sure many of you watch television dramas including some type of police enforcement or federal investigators. In pretty much every episode, there is some warrant distributed in order to get the contents of a phone. And while many things in Hollywood are exaggerated greatly, using forensics to examine phones (or computers) is quite common. Does that mean you are doing something illegal and trying to get away with it? Not usually, but users often have information or media on their phones that they wouldn’t want to share with anyone. Basically, they wouldn’t want to see that content “get out”.
So what can you do about that? I recently reviewed an app called Private Pal (free version available here) that was quite impressive in protecting the majority of your data (i.e. documents, media, etc.), but what about all the texts you send? That is where an app like Wickr can provide help.
What is it and what does it do
Wickr allows you to send anonymous and encrypted text, voice, or media messages.
- All messages are securely encrypted; all metadata is deleted
- Password needed to enter app
- Messages self-destruct after a user-defined time
- Can send text, voice, image, or video messages
- Privacy options for who can send you messages
- Match user to their contact info in your contacts list
- Provide up to 6 ways users can search for you on Wickr
- Syncs across all iOS devices; list of “My Devices” included
- Included contact list backup service
- Included file shredder
- Only Wickr registered users can partake
- A broader explanation about the file shredder’s purpose would be welcome
In this day and age, many users are concerned about the security of their communications. And in reality they should be, given that forensic experts or hackers can easily grab messaging information and private media off your phone. Wickr is an intriguing app that can not only secure your sending of messages, but also clean up deleted media that could have been left behind in your phone.
Wickr takes security to a new level. Upon entry, you must enter a full password (not a passcode) and you have the ability to set the session timeout value so your re-entry into the app is also secure. When that is set up, you have the ability to send a message using the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. You will notice that if you try to send a message to your friend/family/spouse, it will not work, because every user of Wickr needs to be registered. I know folks sometimes have an issue with this, but from a developer point of view, it is much easier to cater to the user (i.e. maintain settings, passwords, etc.) if you have a registered account.
I signed up my wife and I to the service, which doesn’t require any confirmation and therefore hardly took a minute. I put in her username and started to type my wife a message. Wickr provides the option to send a Text + Media message or an Audio recording. If you choose the first option, you will be able to type anything you want and enter images or videos by using two easily seen buttons above the iPhone keyboard. If you choose the audio option, then you can securely leave an audio message.
The other option in both messaging options is the self-destruct time. And no, the message doesn’t blow up like in Mission Impossible, but it vanishes from your conversation after the user-specified time. You can set the self-destruct time for as short or long as you want and I can tell you from my testing of the app, that the feature worked perfectly.
Wickr also has done a good job of including a handful of extra features. The first, a file shredder, is meant to be able to remove remnants of deleted files from your phone. This is nice anti-forensics feature that adds to the value of this app. Wickr also syncs your information across multiple devices and creates backups of your Wickr contacts frequently. Wickr’s ID Connect feature allows other users to possibility of finding you not only through your username, but optionally via Email, a phone #, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Lastly, Wickr’s privacy management feature permits you to create a blocked user list and an “only allow” list, so that you don’t get any unwanted communications.
For guidance purposes, when you first add a friend, there most likely will not be a photo or any other identifying information there other than their username. All you have to do is hit “Add Contact” in the conversation page, select the person to go with that username, and their Contact information will now show up. It took me a second to understand exactly what that whole feature was about, so I thought I’d share.
Conclusion and download link
Wickr provides a messaging service that keeps your communications secure and private. If you are intrigued by such a concept, then you should give Wickr a try.
Download size: 17.7MB
Requires: iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad; iOS 5.0 and up