We are pleased to share that Wickr has been acquired by Amazon and is now part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team. Learn more here →

Wickr Crypto Research

Our Mission

Our mission at Wickr is to build secure communication and collaboration tools. As such, we are deeply interested in understanding, utilizing and advancing the state of the art in Cryptology. With that in mind, we have built a Cryptology research and development program to:

  • Ensure that we make use of cryptography in a rigorous, principled and structured way.
  • Provide state-of-the-art security by taking advantage of improvements in the field such as:
  1. End-to-end encrypted, forward and backwards secure communication,
  2. State-of-the-art high security elliptic curves cryptography (Curve448),
  3. ASIC resistant password hashing (scrypt),
  4. Intrusion-resilient and robust secret sharing for device compromise mitigation, etc.
  • Prepare for emerging and future threats and paradigm shifts in a timely fashion:
    For example: shifting to Post Quantum-secure cryptography in order to protect today’s communication from tomorrow’s attackers potentially armed with a large scale quantum computer.
  • Collaborate with and give back to the wider crypto and security communities (i.e., participating at the highest levels of international peer reviewed research, developing new industry standards for secure communication and collaborating on open source projects).

Research Programs

Secure Messaging Protocols

A secure messaging protocol (SMP) is the collection of procedures that use cryptographic schemes to send and receive messages (and other data such as files, VOIP streams, and more). Read More…


Pub 1: A Modular Design Paradigm & Immediate Decryption
Pub 2: Security Analysis and Improvements for the IETF MLS Standard for Group Messaging

Moderately Hard Computation

Information processing tasks require various digital resources including storage, network bandwidth and/or computation. In the physical world, we often measure the value of resources in terms of their monetary cost. Read More…


Pub 1: Sustained Space Complexity
Pub 2: On the Memory-Hardness of Data-Independent Password-Hashing Functions

About the Author

Dr. Joël Alwen is Wickr’s Chief Cryptographer. In this role he leads Wickr’s Cryptography Research & Development program while also helping design, vet and improve Wickr’s use of cryptographic technology.

Joël received his PhD in cryptography from NYU. He has 15 years experience in the field during which he worked at some of the most renowned academic and industry research institutions around the world including MIT, Harvard, ETH Zurich, IST Austria, NTT Japan and SRI Labs. His academic work is regularly published at the highest tier international cryptography and security venues including, for example, his work receiving the Best Paper Award at Eurocrypt 2017. His research spans a wide variety of crypto and security topics including Secure Message Protocols, Post Quantum Cryptography, Distributed Consensus & Blockchains, Moderately Hard Computation, Leakage Resilient Cryptography, Multiparty Computation & Cryptography and Zero Knowledge Protocols.

His cryptographic interests go hand in hand with his information security work which has included such projects as reverse engineering US Secret Service’s mass-surveillance technology in laser printers, improving and implementing a complete and practical break of the (very widely used) MIFARE Classic RFID technology as well as winning the IPV6 Pentesting capture-the-flag competition at DeepSec 2015.