Anonymous apps use Sony hack to pitch businesses

There’s always an upside, even in cyber vandalism.

The Sony Pictures hack that exposed tens of thousands of messages may turn out to be a boon for struggling anonymous messaging apps. At least one secret app maker, Confide, is using the hack to pitch big companies in Hollywood and beyond on technology designed to let people communicate without a trace, as the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The company, which makes a range of smartphone applications, has one app, also called Confide, that sends encrypted messages that automatically self-destruct like Snapchat images. Now, the company is launching a new version for corporations, promising businesses professionals they can communicate without worrying about their secrets being exposed by a North Korean hacker and ending up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Confide took out an advertisement in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times to promote the new app, Confide for Business.

The wheels must be turning in the executive minds over at Secret, a San Francisco-based anonymous messaging app that has quickly fallen out of popularity, and Whisper, a Southern California-based rival that was caught earlier this year compromising its users’ privacy. (Anonymity on Secret also isn’t guaranteed, news reports show).

Both apps are fighting to win back users after suffering setbacks. Bullying, bad behavior and allegations using real names — sometimes the name of a high-profile tech exec — created problems for Secret, which had to release new user controls. The company revamped the app last week, but still, Secret isn’t even listed in App Annie’s top 1,500 ranking. In August, it ranked in the top 100 of all U.S. apps.

Whisper, too, has been a hotbed for threats from users, who claim they want to hurt themselves or others, and bullying among teens. That has created legal challenges for the company and tarnished its image.

But the business world — especially companies that have been hacked — may offer apps like Secret and Whisper a chance at a comeback. Confide’s pitch to businesses has received a warm welcome initially, with several companies responding that such apps would be preferable to corporate email, which, as we saw with Sony, can be readily exposed. On Confide, messages are exchanged only via the app, and aren’t stored on a central server.

 

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