by James A. Martin

Mirage ‘Self-Destructing’ Message App Raises Security Red Flags

Jan 13, 20153 mins
Consumer ElectronicsMobile Apps

Thanks to all the fuss over the recent Sony hack, there's renewed interest in 'self-destructing' message apps. Mirage is a new option, and though it's fun and easy to use it lacks true security and privacy safeguards, according to app reviewer James A. Martin.

“The Interview” furor has come (and mostly) gone. However, the slapstick film inadvertently aroused a number of new privacy concerns, which still remain, enough so that I decided to check out the Mirage app.

Mirage is a new, free ephemeral (or “self-destructing”) messaging app for Android and iOS. It’s slick, fast and fun to use, but it’s not a solid option for secure, private business messaging.

[Related: 3 Snapchat Alternatives for Self-Destructing Messages]

To be fair, Mirage isn’t geared toward enterprises. One look at the goofy screen shots the developer, Mobli Media, uses on the app’s iTunes and Google Play download pages makes that clear. On the other hand, Snapchat isn’t meant for business users either — but that hasn’t stopped Wall Streeters from using the app, according to CNBC.

mirage app

I have some concerns about Mirage. After you install the app, it asks for your cell phone number so it can send you a verification code. This step alone might make some hesitate, due to privacy and security worries.

Mirage also doesn’t promote the security of its messaging service, unlike apps such as Wickr — my preferred app for “secret” messaging. The Mirage app’s privacy policy lists its “data security and privacy settings.” Hers’s an excerpt:

“You provide your information, messages, and photos to us at your own risk and are responsible for taking reasonable measures to secure your account…We cannot and do not guarantee that information you post on or transmit to the App will not be viewed by unauthorized persons.”

OK, that’s enough about what Mirage isn’t. Here’s what it is: a fun, easy way to share “disappearing” images, brief video clips and texts. One of its strengths is that recipients don’t need to use Mirage to get your messages. People who don’t have the app receive messages as texts with links that take them to a website, where they can view your missives. However, recipients do need to use Mirage to reply.

Mirage works super fast — almost too fast, according to some user complaints. For example, photos are instantly sent to the recipients you preselect. You don’t get even a second to review them. That’s part of the fun, I suppose, but I’d prefer at least a few seconds to review something before I blast it out.

Mirage has other attractive features, including the ability to rearrange contacts on the home screen and send group messages. However, if you’re looking for a genuinely secure, self-destructing messaging app, try Wickr. If you’re just out to have fun with your photos and videos, you’ll enjoy Mirage.