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article imageKeybase launches its own fully encrypted Slack rival

By James Walker     Sep 18, 2017 in Technology
Security app provider Keybase has announced its own take on enterprise chat. Keybase Teams is a free end-to-end encrypted messaging service that's designed as a safer alternative to services like Slack and Microsoft Teams. It's currently in alpha.
Keybase announced Teams today, describing it as the "most important" project in its history. The app is available on desktop and mobile devices from today. It's open-source, fully encrypted, free and capable of supporting teams ranging from a couple of people to entire organisations.
The app's interface makes no secret of its aspirations. The design is obviously reminiscent of Slack, although there's arguably little room for change in an enterprise messaging app. The three-pane view incorporates a fixed navigation bar, a list of conversations and teams and the main messaging feed. Messages show up in conversations as Slack-style lines, rather than the threads favoured by Microsoft Teams and Todoist's Twist.
Keybase Teams' most significant feature is its end-to-end encryption. Keybase said it cannot access any user data, offering complete peace of mind. Keybase never has access to the private keys that guard your files, conversations and user accounts. The signatures are stored on your device, ensuring everything remains private and is always encrypted.
Keybase Teams
Keybase Teams
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This protection will appeal to organisations uncomfortable with Slack's lack of encryption. If a messaging service was hacked, confidential company secrets and personal details could be leaked from unencrypted conversations. Keybase Teams is a response that offers firms a way to avoid this "nightmare," offering a much greater degree of security and an open platform.
Keybase Teams has another differentiator too. The app is completely free to use, whether you're an individual or an organisation with hundreds of employees. Keybase also promised it will remain completely free if you sign up while it's still in development. Although the company will probably start charging in the future, all pre-existing accounts will be grandfathered and free for life.
"We think someday if teams take off, we'll charge for larger teams," said Keybase. "Nothing we're offering for free now will flip to a pay model, so if you make a 500 person team now and start using it, you won't someday be faced with a credit card screen just to get your files or messages. Put most simply, we eventually want to find a way for actual enterprises to pay, while keeping personal and community use free. And any use now is grandfathered in."
Keybase Teams
Keybase Teams
Keybase Teams' alpha launch today comes with some significant limitations. The app's currently far from complete and not all its features are implemented in the interface. For groups intending to try out the app, this means you'll need to set some things up using a terminal before you can access your conversations. Keybase said the capabilities of the graphical app are "evolving fast" and soon everything will be available without requiring terminal access.
Keybase Teams is an interesting alternative to Slack. While trying to emulate Slack's success may seem futile, Teams isn't really trying to. It has the same primary purpose, streaming enterprise collaboration, but the execution is different.
For firms looking for an all-in-one communication platform, Slack is still the go-to solution. Those who want an open-source app, full encryption and no payments while still having a Slack-style tool now have an option though, giving Keybase's app immediate significance. It's some way off being a complete Slack rival but Keybase Teams already has strong potential.
More about keybase, keybase teams, slack, Apps, enterprise technology
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