April 22, 2013, 9:11 AM —
Image credit: flickr/gruntzooki
"This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds."
That variation on the old Mission: Impossible trope is now the business model for several companies. But the services they offer, while beneficial to their users, pose problems for organizations that need to retain records, monitor employee activities or keep an eye on communications -- in other words, most organizations.
Snapchat, Wickr, Burn Note and others attempt to make electronic communications as private as face-to-face discussions. Snapchat allows users to send silly or embarrassing photos that self-destruct within 10 seconds after being opened, and it notifies the sender if the receiver attempts to capture the image by screenshot. Wickr uses "military-grade" encryption to send self-destructing voice, text or audio files, and it allows senders to control who can access the message and for how long. Burn Note maintains all messages in memory with no disk backup. When opened, messages are deleted, along with all sender and receiver information. All of these services are a big advancement for individual privacy.