At its core, secure messaging means the capability to deliver information in a secure and safe environment that is compliant with existing regulations and standards.
Secure business communication is critical to safeguarding important information shared with people inside the business. It is also crucial in protecting sensitive information such as customer records, financial records, trade secrets, and sensitive business records.
Types of business communication
Short Message Service (SMS)
SMS, also popularly known as text messaging, is a form of communication where text messages are sent and exchanged via an SMS network, usually hosted by telecommunication companies (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile).
Instant Messaging (IM)
IM is fast-becoming a popular tool for informal communication in businesses and organisations.
Instant messages can be a handy communication tool for business. It is easy to deploy and user friendly.
Direct Messages (DM)
Like instant messages, direct messages are a form of IM provided by social media sites (Facebook messenger). Most companies discourage or even prohibit the use of DM among employees during work hours. It is because of the negative impact it has on workplace productivity.
However, more companies are leveraging their ‘official’ social media accounts to connect with customers because of their popularity.
Email or electronic mail has replaced traditional letters and documents as the preferred choice for business communication. Hundreds if not thousands of emails can be sent instantly without the need for a mail courier service or delivering it by had to each employee.
Not all email services are created equal. For business owners, an ideal email service should have a powerful spam filter, plenty of storage space, capable of sending large files, compatible with most office productivity tools, and should be reliable.
Email hosting for business
Email hosting is an email service that runs on a server. All you need to do is to create a domain name and sign with an email service. With this, you can send, manage, and maintain your email service. It is available with popular email hosting services like Gmail, Zoho, Outlook.com, and Proton Mail, to name a few.
Types of email hosting services
There are generally three types of email hosting services, each designed to provide a specific need. Below are the types of email hosting solutions for business.
1. Self-hosted email services – in this type of email hosting service, the business sets up and maintains its email server. It gives you full control over the service but can also be expensive. Self-hosted email servers also require 24/7 technical support, which can push costs up.
2. Shared email hosting – an email hosting service where several businesses utilize the same email server. Examples of these include Gmail and Yahoo, but these are more suited for personal use. Depending on the email host, there are limits on how much data can be stored and the size of documents you can send in an email.
3. Third-party email services – this offers business a scalable and simple-to-use email service that comes with dedicated support. It gives you the capabilities of a self-hosted email service without the costs of maintaining your private server.
How to select an email service for your business
Businesses should have an email service that provides a secure, reliable, robust environment for sending and receiving emails. Most companies may require a single address, but others need a scalable solution.
1. Security – does it come with adequate protection against cyberattacks (spam and virus protection)
2. Storage – it must provide sufficient storage space for all your email needs or at least have the option of letting you scale your storage when you need it
3. Integration – it should be compatible with most office productivity tools
4. User friendly – must be simple to use
5. Customer support – for businesses, having the best technical support is not enough. Your email hosting service should provide 24/7 customer support.
6. Price – highly subjective. The price should be justified by the quality and features included in the services they provide
Three must-have features of a secure messaging app
- End-to-end Encryption (E2E)
- Communication medium (Voice, video, text, photos, document sharing)
- Platforms (smartphone, mobile devices, desktop)
The threat of cyber-attacks remains to be a significant cause of concern for any business. Typical threats include email phishing and SMS phishing, responsible for almost ninety percent of all cyberattacks. What’s concerning is that email phishing software can easily be purchased for a few bucks. It can then be sent to thousands or millions of unsuspecting users.
The most critical step in selecting which communication or messaging app to use in your business is the level of security it provides. Encryption is the process of scrambling messages beyond recognition during transmission. A simple explanation would be a sender’s message is encrypted before transmission and only decrypted when the message receives its intended user.
Two basic types of message encryption
1. Server encryption – this can be seen in popular messaging apps like Google Hangouts, where encryption keys are stored in the server. Anyone who can gain access to these servers (highly unlikely) or your account (more likely) will be able to read your messages.
But the real danger is not someone gaining access to the servers, which is secured by several layers of protection. Since encryption only occurs when data is received in the server, messages are vulnerable to interception, especially when done over unsecured connections.
2. End-to-end encryption provides a better security level because encryption occurs both on the senders and recipient’s side. It usually requires a user first to install a program or app on their device. These programs encrypt messages before they are sent and decrypt messages only when they reach the intended receiver with a similar program installed.
Encrypted messaging apps:
a. WhatsApp – one of the first apps that made end-to-end encryption available for day to day messaging. WhatsApp does not store messages on its servers, nor does it have the keys to decrypt user messages. Additionally, the app gives users the option of deleting chats from cloud backups.
– helps you save on your phone bills by letting you make video calls using an internet connection
– Share messages, photos, and videos
– file and document sharing
b. Viber – another popular messaging app that comes with encryption feature for more secure communications. Viber does not only provide E2E for sending text messages but also the same level of security for video and voice calls. Another great thing about Viber is that end-to-end encryption is not only limited to one-on-one conversations but for group chats as well.
– Trusted contacts, verify identities by exchanging secret keys
– Instant voice message
– Group chats with unlimited members
– Delete seen messages
c. iMessage – this messaging app allows you to set controls on how long the message can be viewed and how many times. A major drawback of using this app is that it backs messages to iCloud.
– messages are stored on iCloud
– personalize your message settings
– block contacts or phone numbers
d. Wickr Me – a secure messaging app that lets you communicate anonymously. It provides encrypted text messaging, voice calls, and memos. It can also be used as a productivity tool, allowing you to share screens and online statuses. Wickr does not require users to enter their email address and phone number. It also supports Two-Factor Authentication for added security.
– open-source, can be integrated with compatible database, CRM, and other business apps
– protected status, location, and screen sharing
– securely transfer files, videos, and photos
e. Wire – it comes with end-to-end encryption as a default setting. Wire is also one of the most secure messaging apps because it generates a new key for every message. Like Wickr, it is an open-source application so developers could enhance or modify it to work with other applications.
– file, document sharing
– can be used for conferencing, group chats
Another critical component of business communication that is often ignored is clearing your message history or deleting messages. It also goes for secure messages, even those with end-to-end encryption, because anyone who successfully gains access to your device (smartphone, laptop, desktop) could easily read your messages. Deleting messages is not a messaging feature but something that is taught and considered good practice.
When we delete messages, we usually only remove copies found on our device. However, some messaging apps allow you to remove copies both from the sender and receiver. But remember that this feature only enables you to delete messages but does not stop the other user from taking screenshots or copying the text.
Examples of messaging apps that allow users to delete messages from the recipient’s device include:
a. Strings Messaging App – this app allows you to delete sent messages. It has an additional security feature that asks the sender’s permission before the recipient could forward or share the message.
b. Telegram – comes with several features, including ‘Secret Chats,’ which comes with a self-destructive timer where you can set a limited amount of time when recipients can view messages. It also comes with encryption for additional security.
c. On Second Thought – quite a catchy name that seems to describe what you’re trying to do. The messaging app comes with an ‘off the record’ feature that must be turned on while chatting. It enables you to set a time where messages can be visible before they are permanently removed or self-destruct.
d. SpeakOn – is a mobile messaging app that comes with self-destructing messaging and a powerful translation feature. The app also comes with a ‘secret chat’ that lets you set a secret code to protect your conversations even when you lose your phone.
e. HASH – is an app that makes you texts and photos untraceable and screenshot proof. It doesn’t store messages on the phone, and all are immediately deleted from the phone and servers. It also comes with a notification feature if someone has taken a screenshot of your message. An added level of protection is that the message and sender are never shown on the same page, so if anyone records a message, there is no proof that this was sent from a particular person.
Why use a secure messaging app compared to text or email?
Communication is critical to any successful business. The good thing in this modern age we live in, there’s no shortage of communication tools to keep everybody connected. Take, for example, instant messaging. It allows for a seamless exchange of text messages, which are free. But it takes more than just sending instant messaging when it comes to business communication. It requires a certain level of protection, and this is where secure messaging apps come in.
1. Secure communications
Secure messaging apps give you all the functionalities of traditional messaging apps plus the added benefit of having these protected against hacks or access by unauthorised persons. A must-have for any business who would like to keep their communication secure and away from the competition. Paid or free, secure messaging apps can save your business from intellectual and financial losses.
2. Better coordination and collaboration
The most important thing to remember is for everyone to use the same messaging app. With everybody using the same platform, it is easier to disseminate messages. Coordinating with different team members is also easier, regardless of their locations. Information can be shared seamlessly, and giving timely updates would not be a problem.
3. Keeps everybody connected
Having a messaging app works wonders for teams that mostly work remotely. It can also keep people across the organisations regardless of their physical location connected. It is a great tool for managers who would like to keep tabs on their people.
4. Real-time communication
Compared to emails where you have to wait for a reply, secure messaging apps allow you to communicate in real-time. While this can be done through text messaging, text messages do not provide the same security level.
Why choose MetaFuro for external team communication
The boundaries between personal and business communication are becoming hard to discern. With everything moving so quickly, people often make the mistake of being too complacent and take shortcuts to get things accomplished quickly, which includes keeping all business communication secure.
We at Metafuro give you a convenient and secure channel for communicating with your external business partners. Most other apps don’t allow you to directly communicate with people outside of your business. We make it our business to ensure that all people coming into the platform are vetted for, so that you can trust that who you’re talking with is who you think it is.
If you’re interested in giving MetaFuro a try, check out our product page.