Sunday, March 13, 2016

Solve ‘nagging problems’ in messaging-wire an alternate to Skype

A group of former Skype technologists, backed by the co-founder of the messaging platform, has introduced a new version of its own messaging service that promises end-to-end encryption for all conversations, including by video. Wire, a 50-person start-up mostly made up of engineers, is stepping into a global political debate over encryption that pits privacy against security advocates, epitomized by the standoff between the U.S. government and Apple. Wire, which is headquartered in Switzerland and Germany, two of the most privacy-friendly countries in the world, relays communications through its network of cloud computers where user communications are stored, in encrypted form, on their own devices. It delivers privacy protections that are always on, even when callers use multiple devices, such as a phone or desktop PC simultaneously. For voice and video calls, Wire uses the same DTLS and SRTP encryption standards found in the peer-to-peer WebRTC protocol. Rivals such as Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp or Telegram offer encryption on only parts of a message's journey or for a specific set of services, the company said. "Everything is end-to-end encrypted: That means voice and video calls, texts, pictures, graphics -- all the content you can send," Wire Executive Chairman Janus Friis told Reuters.

Comparison With Other Apps

All of Wire’s encryption is open source, but its user interface is closed source, which means vulnerabilities could still be introduced potentially without the user being able to find out about them. At some level you still have to trust the team behind it to not do nefarious things, but this can be more easily achieved when the company takes so many privacy-friendly measures, including being headquartered in privacy-friendly countries. This is more than most other messaging companies are willing to do.
Although it’s not fully open source the way Signal is, it’s a little more complete because it offers video calls, making it more of a true Skype alternative. This makes it the best overall private messenger for the masses at present.  
When Janus Friis co-founded Skype in 2003, its entrenched competition was instant messaging software like MSN Messenger, AIM and Yahoo Messenger. In 2015, he’s backing a new communications startup called Wire. Its entrenched competition? Skype.

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