Wickr, Secure Self-Destructing Message App, Arrives on Android

Sick of Snapchat? On an Android phone? Then you're in luck, because Snapchat's formerly iOS-only competitor Wickr just launched its Android app yesterday.

"Wickr for Android is powering users to send self-destructing messages without a trace," wrote Wickr co-founder and chief technology officer Robert Statica in a press statement. "Wickr does not collect any personally identifiable information on users, nor can we read any messages or contents sent through Wickr; therefore, no criminal or rogue government can take them from us."

Fellow Wickr co-founder Nico Sell told Cnet that "Wickr has been approached by the FBI and [was] asked for a backdoor. We said no."

At the most recent Def Con security conference in Las Vegas, a team from New York-based digital-forensics firm Stroz Friedberg presented an analysis of how secure the top three self-destructing instant-messaging apps —Snapchat, Facebook Poke or Wickr — really were.

Wickr was the only one from which the Stroz Friedberg team could recover nothing -- no messages, images or metadata.

MORE: 13 Security and Privacy Tips for the Truly Paranoid

The Wickr company, based in San Francisco, claims its apps use "AES-256, RSA 4096, ECDH521, TLS and SHA-256 to protect the data in transit and at rest."

To those unfamiliar with various encryption protocols, that's pretty good, and far beyond what most smartphone apps use to guarantee data privacy.

The app also adheres to a practice known as "perfect forward secrecy," which guarantees that the encryption key used to secure a message can't be used to decrypt a future message along the same channel.

The company says it cannot decrypt messages sent using the app, and hence can't hand them over to any government that demands to see them.

Bear in mind that the Android Wickr app is still in "public beta," which means it's not quite done.

"We need your help in discovering bugs within the app," the Google Play Store description makes clear.

The Wickr app is free and carries no advertising; the company plans to begin charging its enterprise clients at some point in the future.

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Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.

  • house70
    I would gladly pay for an app like this. At least to show my gratitude to the developers and to give them support for future improvement.
  • anti-painkilla
    This could actually be quiet useful. More than likely this will be used for bad things and this will reflect badly on the company. I wonder if they note when screen shots are taken.
  • nevilence
    They said no to the FBI, good on em, wonder what they said to the NSA?
  • digitalvampire
    If these guys are stong privacy advocates (which I genuinely believe they are), they have to understand the HUGE problem if this isn't Free/Open Source Software. Without the source being readily available, this is just ANOTHER company that we have to trust and take at their word.
  • ddpruitt
    "AES-256, RSA 4096, ECDH521, TLS and SHA-256 to protect the data in transit and at rest."

    This actually seriously concerns me. the fact that they're using 5 different encryption protocols makes me wonder how well done anyone of them actually is.
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