Encrypted Enterprise? Amazon’s private messaging service turns business-only for 2023

Many of us put our faith in encrypted messaging apps: the idea of criminals getting hold of our information is enough to send chills down most spines. For most, hovering on our iOS and Android interfaces are the well-known WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger icons, littered with ‘secret’ chats inside (along with those silenced group chats we’re too socially awkward to leave.)

For those who find these services too close to Meta’s orbit for data peace of mind, alternatives like Signal, Telegram, Wire, or even paid platforms such as Threema take up that home screen space.

These services aren’t just limited to Joe Public. As workplaces become increasingly remote, enterprises are likewise ever more dependent on secure messaging tools. Amazon’s purchase in 2021 of Wickr, the end-to-end encrypted messaging service provider, surely had the A-team C-suite rubbing their hands together with the market opportunity available to them.

A free service, the Wickr Me end-to-end encryption allowed for the sending of ‘self-destructing’ messages and multi-media, privately, to other users. Like Snapchat, users could configure how long messages took to erase, with metadata such as message times and geotags also able to self-destruct.

All things Wickr soon started going south though, geography wise. Seemingly unable to limit the misuse of its consumer services, Amazon has been embroiled in Wickr Me user abuse and illegal activity scandals. Unsurprisingly, the tech giant is changing tact, and Amazon has made the call this week to cut the free, consumer element of its Wickr message encryption services.

In what one may assume is a last-ditch attempt to sweeten the deal of this now-sour acquisition, Amazon has announced it will be redirecting its focus on the enterprise market in the new year.

Services will now be geared around AWS Wickr and Wickr Enterprise, ‘from the boardroom to the battlefield’ for business and government use. With every business fearing the rise of security risks, this is surely a market worth tapping into. We could also use battlefield literally here, considering AWS’ deepening relations with the US military.

Amazon has stated its hope that AWS Wickr services will allow organizations to communicate more securely. The enterprise focus is looking to address evolving threats and regulations with security and administrative features designed to safeguard sensitive communications, enforce information governance policies, and retain data as required.

In a statement last week, Amazon said further details would follow in the coming months on the ways that current Wickr users can fish their data out of the proverbial bin before this fraying plug is pulled. Ever keen to jump on an opportunity, and knowing that many business and public sector customers have been optimizing Wickr to communicate with users outside their network, Amazon has stated it will be enabling this service in AWS Wickr, too.

One could argue this may have been Amazon’s plan all along; there’s not much money to be made from free consumer messaging apps, especially in such an oversaturated market.

But, after such a mess in just under a year, you can imagine that behind Amazon boardroom doors, the C-suite would very much like our memory of Wickr Me to self-destruct, too, far sooner than originally intended.