CEO's Corner

What’s Up With WhatsApp? The Unfortunate Result of Using Consumer Messaging Apps in the Enterprise

Anurag Lal Anurag Lal, President and CEO of Infinite Convergence.

Last week, WhatsApp made the kind of news that causes a CEO to cringe. A security researcher at the University of California discovered a backdoor in WhatsApp that Facebook (WhatsApp’s parent company) and others can use to read encrypted messages.

In other words, information shared using WhatsApp messaging technology isn’t secure at all.

For corporate leaders, it’s another example of the serious risks consumer-grade apps pose to the enterprise — a mantra that I’ve been preaching for years. Messaging is here to stay. But when messaging is used to share information in the enterprise, it needs to be shared on a platform that was actually built for the enterprise.

Prohibiting enterprise messaging isn’t an option.

Enterprises are hyper-sensitive to security threats — and for good reason. On average, it costs enterprises more than $500k to recover from a security breach, according to research from Kaspersky Lab.

So, when news about WhatsApp’s security vulnerability hit the market, it sent a ripple of concern across the enterprise community. Deutsche Bank AG quickly banned the use of text messages and consumer messaging apps (like WhatsApp) to improve compliance, even though it recognized that the move would disrupt day-to-day activities for employees. Other enterprises will inevitably follow Deutsche Bank’s example in the coming days.

But should enterprises have to sacrifice the efficiency, collaboration and productivity gains messaging provides to ensure the security of sensitive files and information?

Of course, you already know where I stand on this. The answer is a resounding “no.” Granted, when it comes to information security, it’s like the Wild West out there. But messaging is a must for enterprise communication. Secure enterprise messaging technology eliminates the risks associated with consumer-grade messaging apps and equips enterprises with a robust response to security and other concerns.

But it’s not just about security.

WhatsApp’s recently discovered security vulnerability was the inevitable outcome of relying on consumer messaging technology in the enterprise.

But what many executives and employees don’t realize is that information security isn’t the only reason why a secure enterprise messaging platform makes sense. In fact, there are several other reasons why it’s critical to implement secure enterprise messaging technology ASAP:

  • Compliance — In industries like healthcare and finance, the sharing of sensitive information is governed by strict regulations. Messaging platforms built for enterprises are designed to manage compliance with HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank and other regulations. Compliance doesn’t even fall on consumer messaging apps’ radar.
  • Control — Administrative controls are just as important as the security features of your enterprise’s messaging technology. By providing the ability to manage accounts and information from a secure, central repository, IT managers are empowered to monitor the flow of information and enforce policies related to the distribution or storage of data.
  • Reliability — Consumer-grade messaging apps aren’t as reliable as enterprise-class messaging platforms. The best secure enterprise messaging solutions are architected to guarantee the seamless delivery of messages and files across multiple devices and a geographically diverse user base.

At the risk of tooting our own horn, Infinite Convergence’s NetSfere service is the only large-scale solutions that meets all the requirements for enterprise messaging. We built it to address the unique challenges that large banks, healthcare organizations and other enterprises are up against — challenges that consumer apps simply aren’t equipped to tackle.

Unfortunately, the recent WhatsApp debacle isn’t an isolated incident. Executives across a range of industries are waking up to the fact that consumer messaging apps put the enterprise at risk and are prioritizing the implementation of secure enterprise messaging platforms.

For a deeper dive into the benefits of secure enterprise messaging technology for large organizations, check out our e-book: The CIO’s Guide to Secure Enterprise Messaging.

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