Selecting a secure enterprise messenger

Nine factors C-Suites, CIOs, and CISOs should consider when evaluating and selecting a secure enterprise messenger/collaboration tool

Text messaging has grown up and gone to work. It has been 25 years since Neil Papworth sent the first text message to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone. The message dated December 3rd, 1992, simply said, “Merry Christmas.” A lot has happened since then, today’s messenger apps work seamlessly across operating systems, mobile devices, tablets and desktops. They have more users than social networks and an ecosystem of developers and integrations that give them greater functionality than email.

Gone are the days when enterprise communications travelled within the confines of approved internal applications shielded by digital firewalls. Most messenger apps reside on personal devices and store information in the cloud where they can be shared, mined, hacked and subpoenaed.

Some of the most popular messaging apps have made their way into corporate culture and have even been featured prominently on the Forbes “Top 10 Security Breaches of 2015”. To be fair, they were never designed to service the privacy and security needs of corporate boards, c-suites, regulated industries, political campaigns, and the Departments of State and Defense. In almost every instance, messaging apps were dragged in through the back door, became shadow IT, and were adopted without the scrutiny normally given to new technologies. It was only after the occurrence of a breech that the absence of strong encryption, enterprise and information lifecycle controls were questioned.

In my ongoing discussions with concerned c-suites, CIOs and CISOs, the questions being asked underscore the need for greater scrutiny and awareness of both the benefits and vulnerabilities of cloud-based messaging apps.

When evaluating an enterprise collaboration and messaging tool, concerned c-suite executives and capable technology advisory groups should be asking the following:


Does it use strong-encryption and is it truly end-to-end?

The most secure collaboration and messaging platforms have three discernible characteristics: (1) They uniquely encrypt every message and its attachments; (2) the keys necessary for decryption are not passed along with the message or otherwise warehoused by your provider; (3) the provider does not have the ability to read user content stored on their servers. If your service provider can decrypt and read your content on their servers, your content can be mined, hacked, and subpoenaed.


Does it have enterprise controls?

Enterprise controls make it possible to onboard admins, reviewers, and users. Enterprise controls also make it possible to remotely wipe the content on the messenger if the device is lost, stolen, or compromised. If you can’t control who is given access to the network, how the network will be used, and how long the content will reside on a user device, you can’t manage risk.


Does it have information lifecycle controls?

Lifecycle controls enable individual users to manage the life of an individual message, while administrators can set policies around how long messages are maintained on devices, and distinctly in the organization’s archive. Thereby reducing the risk of unintended disclosures and associated liabilities.


Does it enable compartmented communications?

This is a must-have feature for regulated industries. The ability to compartmentalize conversations makes it possible to enforce regulatory firewalls and address the vulnerabilities brought about by the ambiguities of the Plain View Doctrine in the digital world.


Is it easy to use and deploy across the enterprise?

Ease of use equals enterprise-wide usage. Ease and speed of deployment minimize disruptions. The faster you are up and running the more time you can spend working.


Is it an app and cloud-based SaaS solution?

Apps that have MDM-like capabilities eliminate the need to carry an additional device. Cloud based storage saves money by eliminating hardware. The best SaaS solutions are secure, agile, easy to deploy and cost effective.


Does it work across OS, and with all mobile devices, tablets and desktops?

The ability to seamlessly transition between devices while on the go increases productivity, saves money, and makes work less burdensome.


Does it work in faraway and remote places around the world?

Apps that rely on proprietary hardware and chipsets often fail to provide reliable communications on foreign soil. They also increase cost and make interoperability difficult.


Is it tied to social media?

We are living in a world of distractions, infotainment, and hyper-interactions that rob individuals and companies of time, profits, productivity and potential. Do you want your employees working, solving, and achieving, or socializing on Facebook?

The modern workforce is mobile, fast moving, and impatient. Messaging is the preferred mode of communicating. Companies that want to facilitate success, enable creativity, and protect their reputations, ideas and profits need to employ secure enterprise messengers that are up to the task.

Curious to see how ArmorText could help your organization?

ArmorText has been designed to meet the secure messaging & governance needs of multiple verticals. Our briefings have been tailored to address the unique drivers and needs of different industries and roles within an organization.

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Vice President, JGI

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