Tech Companies Are Realizing the Value of Turning Security Into a Feature



Security protocols have always been necessary to winning over any consumer. But as low-level security systems get roundly demolished, week after week, many developers are now including security features in marketing pitches. Ello, an anonymity-focused startup, declared users not a product as part of its manifesto, hoping to woo users tired of being exposed to big data companies.

Wickr is another app placing its security features front and center. Wickr launched in 2012 as a messaging service that offered text and picture messaging, with messages that expire. “We didn’t come to market until we knew we had something secure, and now we’re adding usability features,” Wickr CEO Nico Sell told Fast Company. “Almost every other consumer product in the world works the opposite way.”

Wickr’s encryption method is simple, but very clever. The encryption keys for the messages are generated and unlocked at each end of the communication chain by users’ smartphones. Wickr can’t store your data because it’s unable to decrypt it, making the system uncrackable. The system protects your data from corporations and government requests alike. “We’re a transporter of gibberish,” Sell said.

Users themselves are crying out for better protections. After a decade of Facebook’s real identity bias, users are integrating anonymous apps and services, like Secret, Whisper, Rumr and Yik Yak, into their usage patterns. While this field isn’t without its problems, it provides users another option to navigate certain sections of social media without revealing personal data.

Security is important to users, but it’s even more important to companies. Without a robust infrastructure, hacks and leaks are inevitable. As users get more savvy about protecting their data, they’re not going to use apps and services that are weak. Google sees that, and it may start factoring security rankings into its search engine bias.

Security is vital to user retention and is becoming the most important feature of any service where user data is at stake.

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