Keep business-relevant text messages out of cybercriminals' hands (and away from prying eyes)
TIME TO READ: 8 MINUTES
Texting happens all the time in business now. It's unavoidable. Not without cause, either…it's a remote-friendly communication tool that works in real time and creates a record of communications.
Customers even want you to text. According to the State of Texting 2020 survey from ZipWhip:
- 77% of consumers said they use texting more than other messaging tools.
- 73% of consumers wish more businesses texted them.
No sense trying to stop texting in your business. Instead, secure those texts!
Why? One important reason: Cybercriminals target phones as much as laptops now. If they find texts with sensitive information on them, you're in serious trouble.
Texting security puts a protective barrier around those conversations, so you never have to worry about someone eavesdropping.
In this WOOF we'll give two methods for securing employee text messages. But first, let's answer the big question you're bound to have.
Why Shouldn't We Use Default Texting Apps?
What's wrong with using the default app on your phone to text? Only one thing, when it comes to security: They can't maintain their own security end-to-end.
On the iPhone, you have iMessage. This does offer end-to-end encryption, so it's OK for most conversations. However, the encryption only works end-to-end with another iPhone user. If someone texts an Android phone, the encryption doesn't hold out.
On Android phones, the typical default app is Messages. It has the same issue as with iMessage—some encryption, but only confined to other Android phones. If someone texts an iPhone, the encryption can't hold there either.
Solution: Use a third-party app that comes with end-to-end encryption. The app must work on both iOS and Android. This guarantees both sides of the conversation stay private no matter what phone someone uses.
What kind of app should you use?
Method 1: Deploy a Messaging App
The first Texting Security method is to use an official third-party messaging app company-wide for all communications. It must work on all devices, from any location.
This isn't a texting app per se, but you can use it for texts easily. Plus, you also get other communications tools, depending on the app—voice calls, conferencing, online chat, etc.
You have several options: Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, etc. All of these have a private message function which works like texting. (They also have phone apps if you prefer voice calls.)
Here's how to find the Private Message function in Teams & Skype for Business.
- Skype for Business App: Use Instant Messaging. Tap Contacts, tap the person you want to text. If you don't see them, enter their name/email to add a new contact.
- Teams App: Use Private Messaging. Tap Chat, tap the New Chat icon at top right. Enter the person's name or email in the "To:" field. Tap the contact, and start typing.
If you prefer to focus on messaging and still want good security, consider Telegram. It's a privacy-focused messenger with apps for all platforms. It is meant for consumer use, but small businesses
can use it as well. At time of writing, it's free.
Advantages to Messaging Apps:
- More tools beyond messaging available
- Easier to manage
- Security is built-in
Challenges to Messaging Apps:
- Getting employees to use the app, instead of their phone's default texting app
- Per-user cost
If this sounds like too much, then Method 2 may work better.
Method 2: Add a Secure Texting Platform
Business-friendly texting platforms do exist. They allow employees to communicate with customers & one another via SMS/MMS – the same network everyone uses for texting.
You have multiple options in this field:
Essentially, these all enable you to send & receive texts from a computer instead of your phone. The recipient receives the text on their phones, just like normal. The platform's security carries over, to keep all those texts cloaked from prying eyes.
Advantages to Business Texting Platforms:
- Leverages pre-existing texting behavior
- Can work with personal phones just as easily as company phones
Challenges to Business Texting Platforms:
- May require additional management
Company Phones vs. Personal Phones: Which Do You Have?
Which method you prefer may depend on the types of phones in your company: Company-issued phones, or personal phones employees use for work.
If you issue company phones, ALL communications must take place on them. Make it company policy. You can also employ a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution on the phones. This helps you enforce security protections for each device, and even remote
wipe in case of loss.
If employees use personal phones for work (BYOD),
the phone is not company property and therefore you have no right to control it. BYOD allows employees to connect to your network through their phones. That leaves you exposed in case of loss, or if the employee leaves and takes company data with
In case it's not obvious, we recommend issuing company phones and requiring all communications take place on them. Security-wise, it's by far the better option.
Which of the two Texting Security methods would we recommend? Both have merit, depending on your company's structure. This year however, we had more customers help us implement messaging apps (Method 1) by a wide margin.
Texting is a Communications Channel You Need to Secure
Texts are business-related messages, like emails. They need protection just like emails do.
Whether you use a messaging app like Teams, or adopt a secure texting platform, you're achieving that protection. Team members can still text – just through platforms you manage & secure.
Which method do you prefer? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!