Wire (software)

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Wire
Wire software logo.svg
Developer(s) Wire Swiss GmbH
Initial release 3 December 2014; 3 years ago (2014-12-03)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Operating system Android
iOS
Linux
macOS
Windows
Platform
  • Android 4.2 or later
  • iOS 8.0 or later
  • Linux[1]
  • macOS 10.9 or later
  • Windows 7 or later[2]
  • Wire for Web: Internet Explorer 11 or later, Firefox 31 or later, Chrome 26 or later, Safari 7 or later, Opera 27 or later
Type Communication software
License
Alexa rank Increase 77,148 (October 2017)[8]
Website wire.com

Wire is a cross-platform, encrypted instant messaging client created by Wire Swiss. It is available for iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, macOS and Web browser clients. It uses the Internet to make voice and video calls; send text messages, files, images, videos, audio files and user drawings depending on the clients used. It can be used on any of the available clients, requiring a phone number or email for registration.[9]

Many employees working on Wire have previously worked with Skype, and Skype's co-founder Janus Friis is backing the project. Audio quality is one of Wire's key selling points.[10]

History[edit]

Wire Swiss GmbH launched the Wire app on 3 December 2014. Shortly after its launch, the company retracted a claim from their website that the app's messages and conversation history could only be read by the conversation participants.[11][12] In August 2015, the company added group calling to their app.[13] From its launch until March 2016, Wire's messages were only encrypted between the client and the company's server. In March 2016, the company added end-to-end encryption for its messaging traffic, as well as a video calling feature.[14][15] Wire Swiss GmbH released the source code of the Wire client applications in July 2016.[16][17]

The source code is accompanied by the GPLv3[18] but the readme file[19] states that a number of additional restrictions specified by the Wire Terms of Use[20] take precedence. Among other things, users who have compiled their own applications may not change the way it connects and interacts with the company's centralised servers.[21][22]

Features[edit]

Wire allows users to exchange text, voice, photo, video and music messages.[23] The application also supports group messaging.

The app allows group calling with up to ten participants.[24] A stereo feature places participants in "virtual space" so that users can differentiate voice directionality.[13] The application adapts to varying network conditions.

The application supports the exchange of animated GIFs up to 5MB through a media integration with a company called Giphy.[25] The iOS and Android versions also include a sketch feature that allows users to draw a sketch into a conversation or over a photo.[26] YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and Vimeo integrations allow users to share music and videos within chats.[27]

Wire is available on mobile, desktop and web. The web service is called Wire for Web.[27] Wire activity is synced on iOS, Android and web apps.[28] The desktop version supports screen sharing.[29]

Wire also includes a function for ephemeral messaging in 1:1 and group conversations.[30][31]

With Wire for Teams, Wire introduced a paid product with a series of features available to businesses.[32] It offers the administration of team members: Adding and removing people, assigning roles, and inviting guests to specific chats.[32]

Technical[edit]

Wire provides end-to-end encryption for its instant messages. Wire's instant messages are encrypted with Proteus, a protocol that Wire Swiss developed based on the Signal Protocol.[33][34] Wire's voice calls are encrypted with DTLS and SRTP,[13][33]. In addition to this, client-server communication is protected by Transport Layer Security.[10]

Metadata[edit]

In May 2017, Motherboard published an article saying that the Wire servers "keep a list of all the users a customer contacted until they delete their account".[35] Wire Swiss confirmed that the statement was accurate, saying that they keep the data in order to "help with syncing conversations across multiple devices", and that they might change their approach in the future.[35]

Security[edit]

In December 2016, Wire's whitepapers were reviewed by a security researcher at the University of Waterloo.[36] The researcher praised Wire for its open approach to security, but identified serious issues that still need addressing. These included a man-in-the-middle attack on voice and video communications, possible audio and video leakage depending on unspecified codec parameters, the fact that all user passwords are uploaded to Wire's servers, significant attack surface for code replacement in the desktop client, and the fact that the server is not open sourced. The researcher described the security of Wire as weak in comparison to Signal, but also depicted its problems as surmountable. Wire's developers announced the addition of end-to-end authentication to Wire's calls on 14 March 2017,[37] and started open-sourcing Wire's server code on 7 April 2017.[38] In March 2017, the review was updated with the conclusion that "the remaining issues with Wire are relatively minor and also affect many of its competitors."[36]

On 9 February 2017, Kudelski Security and X41 D-Sec published a joint review of Wire’s encrypted messaging protocol implementation.[39] Non-critical issues were found that had the potential of leading to a degraded security level. The review found that "invalid public keys could be transmitted and processed without raising an error."[39] The report also recommended that other security improvements be implemented to address thread-unsafety risks and sensitive data in memory.[39] Wire's developers have said that "the issues that were discovered during the review have been fixed and deployed on iOS and Android. Deployment is ongoing for Wire for Web and desktop apps."[40]

Business model[edit]

Wire Swiss GmbH receives financial backing from a firm called Iconical.[15] According to an article published by Reuters, Wire Swiss has not disclosed how much funding it has received, and in March 2016, it had yet to discover a sustainable business model.[15] Wire Executive Chairman Janus Friis told Bloomberg that the company will "never create an advertising-based business model", but "might charge for certain premium services in the future".[14]

In July 2017, Wire Swiss announced the beta version of an end-to-end encrypted team messaging platform.[41] In October 2017, Wire officially released the team messaging platform as a subscription based communication solution for small businesses.[42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sneddon, Joey-Elijah (11 October 2016). "Wire, the Encrypted Chat App, Is Now Available for Linux". OMG! Ubuntu! (Blog). Ohso Ltd. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "Former Skype team members returning to Windows with Wire for Windows". Supersite for Windows. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "Wire web client license". 
  4. ^ "Wire desktop client license". 
  5. ^ "Wire Android client license". 
  6. ^ "Wire iOS client license". 
  7. ^ "Wire server license". 
  8. ^ "wire.com Site Info". Alexa, Inc. October 8, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Wire front page". WIRE SWISS. Retrieved December 17, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Dredge, Stuart. "Skype co-founder backs Wire - to take on Skype". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "New communications app Wire tones down encryption claims". PCWorld. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  12. ^ Cox, Joseph (4 December 2014). "App Built by Former Skype Employees Retracts Promise Not to Read Your Messages". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  13. ^ a b c Pierce, David (12 August 2015). "Messaging App Declares War on Crappy Conference Calls". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Kahn, Jeremy (10 March 2016). "Amid Apple's FBI fight, app developers are ramping up encryption". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c Auchard, Eric (11 March 2016). "Skype co-founder launches ultra-private messaging, with video". Thomson Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  16. ^ Meyer, David (22 July 2016). "Wire Wants to Bring Encrypted Chat to Cars and the Internet of Things". Fortune. Time Inc. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  17. ^ "Wire Swiss GmbH". GitHub. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  18. ^ wireapp. "wire-desktop/LICENSE at master · wireapp/wire-desktop · GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  19. ^ wireapp. "wire-ios/README.md at develop ¡ wireapp/wire-ios ¡ GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  20. ^ "Legal · Wire". Wire.com. Retrieved 2017-12-16. 
  21. ^ Menge-Sonnentag, Rainald (27 July 2016). "Wire-Messenger ist jetzt vollständig Open Source". Heise.de (in German). Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  22. ^ "Wire iOS client". GitHub. Wire Swiss GmbH. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  23. ^ "Meet Wire, A Communications App Backed By Skype Co-founder Janus Friis". Fast Company. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "How do I start or end a group call?". Wire Swiss GmbH. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  25. ^ "Wire and Giphy Make Communication Fun". AppMess. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  26. ^ "Communicating "I Love You" in the Emoji Era". PSFK. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  27. ^ a b Perez, Sarah. "Skype Co-Founder Backs Wire, A New Communications App Launching Today On iOS, Android And Mac". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  28. ^ Sawers, Paul (2 December 2014). "Wire wants to be Skype for the modern age, launches with the backing of Skype co-founder Janus Friis". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  29. ^ Lopez, Napier (30 July 2016). "Open-source Wire messenger gets encrypted screen-sharing". The Next Web. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  30. ^ "Safe and tidy with Timed Messages". Wire Swiss. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  31. ^ Mott, Nathaniel (25 October 2016). "Encrypted Messaging Apps Wire And Signal Turn To Ephemeral Messages". Tom's Hardware. Purch Group Inc. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  32. ^ a b Darrow, Barb. "In Age of Email Hacks, Startup Brings Secure and Encrypted Chat to Businesses". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-11-10. 
  33. ^ a b "Wire Security Whitepaper". Wire Swiss GmbH. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  34. ^ "Add attribution". GitHub. Wire Swiss GmbH. 9 May 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  35. ^ a b Cox, Joseph (12 May 2017). "Secure Messaging App Wire Stores Everyone You've Ever Contacted in Plain Text". Motherboard. Vice Media LLC. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  36. ^ a b "Wire". Cryptography, Security, and Privacy (CrySP). 28 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  37. ^ "A major upgrade to calling". Medium. Wire Swiss GmbH. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  38. ^ "Open sourcing Wire server code". Wire Swiss GmbH. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  39. ^ a b c Kudelski Security and X41 D-Sec (8 February 2017). "Security Review – Phase 1" (PDF). X41 D-Sec. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  40. ^ "Wire's independent security review". Medium. Wire Swiss GmbH. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  41. ^ Lomas, Natasha (20 July 2017). "Wire launches e2e encrypted team messaging in beta". TechCrunch. Oath Inc. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  42. ^ "Encrypted messaging app Wire is taking on Slack with its new business messenger platform | Verdict". www.verdict.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-10.