'Wickr' Smartphone App Automatically Encrypts, Deletes Your Texts
Two iTunes Store screenshots of Wickr in use.
A new smartphone app, Wickr, could provide some much-needed damage control over any errant, late-night or personal text messages you might send, and any secret government or corporate data that might be transmitted via SMS.
Its motto, "Leave no trace," says it all — Wickr allows its users to send texts and SMS-based picture, audio and video messages from their phones securely and anonymously, using military-grade encryption.
Wickr — the free app is available for the iPhone and iPad, and will be coming soon for Android — ensures that sent messages can be read only by authorized recipients, who must also have Wickr installed. The app does not require its customers to share an email address or any personal information, and the company does not store messages on its servers.
The app doesn't encrypt your phone's stored data, nor does it encrypt email or voice communications, but it does strip the metadata from a texted image so that experts and hackers will not longer be able to determine where and when a photo was taken.
Wickr's timing couldn't be better, especially considering the amount of personal data people freely share online. A new website, "We Know What You're Doing," humorously chronicles some of the more embarrassing and possibly harmful things people post as Facebook status updates.
Wickr also gives users a "self-destruct" option for messages. Users can control exactly how long recipients can view videos, photos and texts they are sent.
"Typically, when someone deletes anything from a phone, metadata from the file remains on the phone's hard drive, where skilled hackers, forensics investigators or law-enforcement officials can piece it back together," the New York Times reported. "Wickr's app contains an anti-forensics feature — the mobile equivalent of a paper shredder — that erases deleted files for good by writing over that metadata with gibberish text."
Nico Sell, one of the app's co-founders, told the Times that Wickr was born in part from her own experiences with her two daughters.
"If my daughter wants to post a picture of our dog, Max, on Instagram, she shouldn't have to know how to turn the geo-location off," she said. "People have always asked me, 'How do I communicate securely and anonymously?' There was never an easy answer, until now."