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Amazon buys encrypted messaging app Wickr

Amazon Web Services Inc. said that it has acquired a startup called Wickr Inc. with an encrypted messaging app used by large enterprises and public sector organizations.

AWS didn’t disclose how much it’s paying for the startup. San Francisco-based Wickr previously raised more than $50 million from investors.

Amazon said in a statement it would incorporate Wickr in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division which offers cloud computing and other services.

AWS will continue to offer Wickr services including end-to-end encrypted communications which meet certain regulatory requirements.

Wickr’s encrypted messaging app of the same name is in use at organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense, publicly traded financial firm Discover Financial Services and McKinsey & Co. The app uses end-to-end encryption technology to scramble messages, as well as their file attachments, in a way that makes it impossible even for Wickr itself to view their content.

Every message is encrypted on the user’s device before it’s sent. As a result, when the packets containing the message pass through Wickr’s servers on their way to the recipient’s device, the startup can’t inspect them to access the user’s correspondence.

Hackers can bypass encryption by obtaining the encryption key that was used to scramble the data. To mitigate that risk, Wickr scrambles each message and file using a separate encryption key. That ensures that if hackers somehow manage to steal the key that was used to scramble one of the user’s messages, they can’t compromise any other correspondence.

AWS will continue to offer Wickr services including end-to-end encrypted communications which meet certain regulatory requirements. The acquisition will expand AWS’ portfolio of communications and collaboration services.

The acquisition of Wickr may advance the product strategy of not only AWS but also parent Inc., which could use the startup’s technology to build a secure messaging service for consumers.

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