HipChat users: What should you consider before committing to Slack?

August 2, 2018

The news that Slack has acquired the intellectual property behind Atlassian’s HipChat and Stride chat and messaging services, has left its users wondering, “What next?”

All that’s clear is that Atlassian will be discontinuing HipChat and Stride and providing a migration path to Slack for users.

When that happens, and what that actually means is unclear. So, if you’re one of those users, and you’re considering your alternatives, what should you be thinking about?

decision time road sign

The use of enterprise messaging has changed

The market for enterprise messaging has grown at pace since HipChat was launched almost a decade ago in 2010. Where enterprise messaging apps were once viewed as a niche communications tool, and almost certainly secondary to email, today they are the preferred channel for one-to-one and team conversations for many employees.

However, with this growth come challenges for IT leaders – most notably around security, and how tools like Slack are increasingly being used to share confidential company and client data. It seems that as the technology becomes embedded in our daily work routines, we become more confident – escalating from simple team chat to sharing sensitive messages and confidential files.

Use this opportunity to review your InfoSec and enterprise messaging policies

With HipChat and Stride being retired by Atlassian, now could be an ideal time to review how enterprise messaging and collaboration apps are being used in your business, and upgrade to a solution that better meets your InfoSec requirements.

To start, we’d recommend considering these four factors:

  • What type of communication is shared through the app? Are teams using the messaging app for innocuous team chat, or are they sharing company sensitive information? If they are, does the app offer a level of end-to-end encryption that protects company IP and user data from man-in-the-middle attacks?
  • Will the app be used for external communication? Are users risking not only company IP, but also the integrity of client data? Remember, if confidential information is shared in open Slack channels, it becomes searchable by all company employees and external users within the channel. This may put the company in violation of any contractual obligation to protect client data, or expose internally sensitive information outside of the intended recipients.
  • Can you consolidate your apps? How many communication and collaboration use cases does the solution include? Better to mandate a single, enterprise-wide solution for voice, video calling, chat and file sharing than have users hop between multiple apps with differing levels of security (and offering greater entry points for exploitation by malicious users).
  • Think about your GDPR requirements. There’s no doubt that GDPR has made life a little more complicated for IT leaders, and enterprise messaging apps are up there with the most bothersome! Much has been written about WhatsApp and it being banned within enterprises for potentially breaching GDPR requirements. There are also questions about Slack, with anecdotal evidence that it is able to access your chat history (according to this report from Gizmodo.)

Do you need to explore other options before committing to Slack?

Businesses are reaching something of a tipping point. Collaborative tools like team chat and messaging meet a very real user need, and are increasingly welcomed by employees. But it’s vital that CIOs understand the use cases.

For many HipChat and Stride users, a migration to Slack makes perfect sense. However, for others, this is a good opportunity to evaluate the important role that enterprise messaging and collaboration plays in their business, and consider tools that protect the business from potential damage, and even regulatory action.

If, after evaluating your requirements, you consider secure, end-to-end encryption as a key business priority for enterprise messaging, it might be time to explore a more mature alternative.

Consider Wire in your evaluations

Wire is the perfect enterprise messaging and chat solution for sharing confidential information. It’s more secure than email, and other messaging apps, and uses end-to-end-encryption, with forward and backward secrecy (so that each new message and interaction uses a new encryption key). This ensures messages are completely secure and protected from man-in-the-middle attacks. Not even Wire has access to chat histories or shared documents.

If you’re a HipChat user looking to explore options before committing to Slack, get in touch today for a free trial and demo.

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