What is ephemeral messaging and why would my organization consider using it?

It’s a fair question. Ephemeral messaging is hardly a phrase that rolls off the tongue—nor is it a phrase that’s typically heard in day-to-day conversation. And yet, ephemeral messaging is a technology that is key to the constantly growing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workforce—enabling professionals to communicate on personal devices while staying secure. So back to the question—what is ephemeral messaging?

Simply put, ephemeral messaging involves sending messages that do not remain on the sender or the receiver’s devices. The sender sends the message, the receiver looks at it, and after a pre-determined period of time the message disappears from both the sender and the receiver’s phone. This includes text messages and messages with images. It also enables the sender of the message to shred the message after it has been delivered, but before the recipient has read it.

So isn’t this typically a technology used for consumers?

Another fair question. Ephemeral messaging must offer more than a disappearing trick in order to be enterprise ready. For Enterprise Messaging (EM), ephemeral messaging must be tightly coupled with security and compliance. Secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging defines the new EM messaging App for the enterprise and carries the required structure critical for enterprise communications.

Compliance is always a concern when you start to talk about messages being shredded or disappearing. Secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging provides the ability to save one copy of all communications to a firewalled repository of choice, such as an EHR, to ensure that the organization can remain compliant. With a compliant copy safely stored, ephemerality helps resolve the risk of lost or stolen devices. This all too common occurrence can result in diminished trust, heavy fines or legal repercussions. Because no data is stored on the messaging server or devices, the information from EM communications is not accessible to whoever is in control of the lost or stolen device.

More broadly, secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging protects against forwarding, copying, and screenshotting. Any attempt to screenshot a text or a photo results in the recipient being removed from the discussion. For additional security, images are protected by what’s called image obfuscation—a process that blurs the image so that the screenshot is not decipherable. Secure messaging technology also separates the message body and header to provide further protection against the distribution or creation of unauthorized records.

How would my organization use this technology?

Messaging has become a regular medium for communication in the workplace. Even in industries, such as healthcare, where texting is banned, employees often still use text to communicate because they consider it to be an efficient and productive tool. But SMS texting is problematic because it is not secure, not always encrypted, and can be distributed without the consent of the sender.

Secure, ephemeral messaging addresses all those issues while mimicking the look and feel of SMS texting. In short, it is a secure version of a behavior employees now find natural—texting. The result? Employees can use text messaging to discuss highly sensitive information knowing that employee, customer data, and confidential company communications cannot be exposed and is in compliance.

From a professional perspective there are a plethora of reasons to use ephemeral messaging technology. We live in a society where people communicate primarily through text messaging—with over 350 billion text messages sent each month. Yet, for many both BYOD and people’s tendency to communicate via text message can pose a security challenge. Secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging technology ensures that workplaces utilizing BYOD and COPE strategies are securing their mobile communications with confidence.

There is a myriad number of scenarios in which ephemeral messaging technology comes into play for the enterprise; patient care collaboration and engagement, the transmission of PII such as credit card numbers or social security numbers, HR discussions during recruiting and legal discussions are just a few examples of some of the business discussions that must be kept confidential but should not remain on mobile devices. Many of these occur today on non-secure SMS text and put organizations and clients at risk.

What it boils down to is this: secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging enables organizations to securely leverage the efficiencies of modern day mobile messaging while ensuring the protection of sensitive information, compliance and confidentiality. Texting is a key component of your mobile workforce and has become a natural behavior. EM technology builds on that behavior and empowers people to discuss confidential information in a way that is convenient, efficient and above all secure.

If you’re interested in learning more about secure ephemeral messaging technology and its uses check out Vaporstream®’s recent white paper “Secure Mobile Messaging Drives Confidential and Compliant Communications in a BYOD World” or contact us for further information.