Back in 2018, encrypted messaging service Wire launched its first enterprise product, providing end-to-end encrypted messaging, voice, video, file sharing, and search services to businesses.
Earlier this year, big four consultancy firm EY adopted the Wire platform to enhance the security of its communications both internally and with external third-parties. EY wanted an end-to-end messaging service to share messages and files with customers, while maintaining control of what sits on its servers in-house.
Yannick de Kerhor, chief data officer at EY France, initiated the project, approaching Wire’s CEO Morten Brøgger with a challenge to make EY’s communication technology more secure.
Up until that point, EY had been using email to communicate with its clients but was acutely aware it needed to find a better way of doing business. Wire was able to offer EY an on-premise version of its encrypted messaging service, allowing EY the level of control it wanted.
“The initial discussions were around security because, for a corporate professional services company, making sure that communication with clients is confidential and secure is really important. So, I think the discussion started there.” Brøgger told Computerworld UK over the phone. “At the same time, I also knew that this type of communication platform needs to be user friendly and provide support for what we call the consumerisation of the enterprise.”
End-to-end encryption already comes as standard with a number of popular consumer communication services such as WhatsApp and iMessage, and Wire wanted to offer an enterprise service that met the same usability and security requirements.
“The encryption keys exist on the devices of the users, there is not a copy that exists on any server and these encryption keys cannot leave the devices of the users. It simply does not allow for potential miscommunication because outsiders cannot access the encryption key.” de Kerhor explains.
“Furthermore, every time a user has sent or received a message in Wire, for context that could be anything from a text message or a five second voice note, each transaction requires an encryption key and because each individual message has its own unique individual key, it makes [the message] more secure.
“This kind of security around communication is becoming very, very important for enterprises because, in my view, securing communications is the fastest, the most impactful and the cheapest way to upgrade your cyber security.”
Aside from employing end-to-end encryption, the platform boasts an invitation-only policy, making it much harder for a bad actor to gain entry to the system and access information exchanged within it without EY knowing about it. Even though EY manages the servers, because everything is encrypted at device level, employees or potential hackers have no way of accessing the servers to decrypt messages.
The enterprise solution is also multi-device, meaning the same high levels of security exist across mobile, desktop or any other compatible device. According to de Kerhor, the benefits of this have already been realised by both employees and clients of EY.
“[Our clients] know email is not secure and because of this, they would sometimes end up using consumer [communication] products. However, from a risk management perspective we weren’t allowed to do this, so we couldn’t provide a proper solution to this issue.
“This solution is something that they’re extremely interested in but many of our clients said they needed to test if it's working, if it's user friendly, or if it has any problems. But as soon as they start using it, they can see it is clearly addressing a need.”
Employees are also grateful to have a platform that resembles the communication tools they use in their personal lives but with the added security and functionalities that make it uniquely suited to the enterprise space.
For de Kerhor, although the role out of Wire’s enterprise platform is still in its trial phase, the use cases have been clear from the beginning.
“One is in the transaction phase, when we work with clients on M&A transactions, and you have to share information with your clients, or their bank, etc. The other use case is the exchange of information between a client and its auditor, where you also pass plenty of confidential information back and forth. Up until now, all this has been flowing through emails so, this has drastically changed the security level of these exchanges.”
Wire are confident that this trial implementation will be a success; not just because of the nature of its product but from the clear demand of its customers for a platform that enables truly secure communication in the enterprise.
The pilot project with EY saw 150 employees and roughly 20 clients use the platform to communicate and based off the early results, EY has plans to roll it out to more teams across the company.