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Hack Us. Pretty Please?

The encrypted-messaging app Wickr is offering skilled hackers a significant bounty to find vulnerabilities in its digital security.

Want to earn a quick $100,000?

Wickr, the encrypted-messaging app, announced Wednesay that it would pay up to that amount to anyone who points out a vulnerability in its app that "substantially affects the confidentiality or integrity of user data." Take that, Snapchat.

It's a new offer as part of the company's bug bounty program--offering a reward for exposing security holes--something that larger tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all have helped usher into the mainstream in recent years. 

The company putting its money where its mouth is on security certainly shows confidence in its product, which it says has already undergone professional testing by penetration testers.

And that's a sign that companies with data at stake are going to need to employ increasingly audacious techniques to stay ahead of hack attacks in the future.

Wickr differs from messaging systems WhatsApp and SnapChat in that it not only offers the ability for all of its messages (photos, videos, calls, texts) to self-destruct after a period of time, but also for the data to be encrypted during the message's sending-process--meaning accessing the messages from the outside would be nearly impossible. Wickr stores neither the information, nor the "keys" to decrypt the data.

It's a direct blow to Snapchat. Recently, a security attack exposed as many as 4.6 million of its users' phone numbers and usernames.

Wickr CEO and co-founder Nico Sell recently told the website Re/code: "Snapchat hired lobbyists when they should have hired hackers."


Last updated: Jan 15, 2014

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.

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