I’m surprised we aren’t all sick of talking about sexting by now. Sure, services like Snapchat and Facebook Poke offer tech reporters a rare opportunity to write about something more salacious than boardroom meetings or venture capital, but the idea that secure, self-destructing photos are only important if they contain genitalia has gotten old.
Gryphn, a security platform startup, gets that. The latest update to its secure messaging app is less about competing with either Snapchat or Facebook and more about making sure the kinds of information we share with one another every day is safe. While that security might lend itself to some… let’s go with “off-label” usage, it’s hardly at the core of the service.
People share all kinds of information via SMS. I’ve personally sent and received PIN codes and passwords in the last month with nary a thought about the message’s security. Other people might use messaging to share other personal information without thinking about it, or send a photo (which doesn’t necessarily have to be risqué) that they’d prefer didn’t last forever. We often think of our phones as windows into our digital lives, but there’s plenty of “real world” information that gets transmitted by these ever-personal supercomputers.
Gryphn wants to make it easier for people to secure their communications. The app, which is currently available for Android, allows users to send and receive secure text and picture messages as well as setting self-destruct timers that will delete the communication from the recipient’s phone. Many features require that both the recipient and the sender use Gryphn, which is a bit of a downside at the moment, but the company has plans to partner with other companies to spread awareness about its services. (Which is about as vague as a company can be about future plans, but I’m told that that’s all they can say for now.)
People send sensitive information, because they need to get things done, says Gryphn CTO Aaron Huttner. “I’m going to send these messages anyway despite the repercussions. It’s not that I don’t understand them — it’s because the perceived benefits are higher than the risks,” he says. But if the ability to secure those messages isn’t a hassle, why not take advantage of it?
Unlike Snapchat, which we’ve argued as being important because it shows how the concept of a photograph is changing and becoming more ephemeral, Gryphn is about securing the information that users are sharing every day. It isn’t encouraging (or discouraging) a new form of communication so much as it is offering a security blanket to people who recognize the permanency of digital and how much of their lives are transmitted via technology.
As security becomes more of an issue to people who would prefer that “their bidness stays their bidness,” as no one might say, I imagine tools like Gryphn will become increasingly popular. It probably says something about our culture that the only use case we can think of as benefiting from secure communication would be so lewd, but, eventually, security is going to be seen as important for things seen outside the bedroom.
The sooner services like Gryphn are able to escape that perception, the sooner we’ll all be able to appreciate security instead of going “Eww, they want to take pictures of what?”
[Image Credit: komehachi888 on Flickr]