Category: end-to-end encryption

UK government to meet tech giants after Westminster attack

28. March 2017

In consequence of the Westminster Bridge attack in London, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that she wants to meet several tech giants in order to make sure law enforcement is able to access encrypted data for terrorism investigation.

The topic came up as the attacker reportedly used the messaging application WhatsApp shortly before his attack began. As WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, neither law enforcement nor WhatsApp itself can read messages. The same applies to Apple’s iMessage. While Rudd did not want to make public which tech companies she will meet in detail, Google confirmed that it will be meeting the UK government.

“We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,“ Rudd said. Labour leader Jeremy Corbin, however, stated that law enforcement already had enough powers and that there needed to be a balance between the right to know and the right to privacy.

In the meantime, Microsoft confirmed that it had provided email information relating to the Westminster Bridge attack to the British authorities after it had received lawful orders.

Use of encryption App increases after US election

6. December 2016

BuzzFeed News reported, that after electing Donald Trump the App called Signal has been faced with a 400 percent rise in daily downloads.

This App is a secure communications tool and therefore well-known in terms of technology, journalism and politics. When using this App people are able to text and speak with one another by encrypting end-to-end, so that only the sender and the intended recipient can read or hear the respective message.

The founder of the App called Signal, Moxie Marlinspike, released a statement saying that “There has never been a single event that has resulted in this kind of sustained, day-over-day increase.” Marlinspike explained that “Trump is about to be put in control of the most pervasive, largest, and least accountable surveillance infrastructure in the world (…) People are maybe a bit uncomfortable with him.”


Category: Encryption · end-to-end encryption · EU · USA

“If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise …

24. October 2016

… The reality is that our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities. Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk,” concluded Sherif Elsayed-Ali, the head of Amnesty International’s Technology and Human Rights Team, after ranking 11 of the most popular messaging apps in a Message Privacy Ranking.

In this ranking, both Snapchat and Skype received some of the lowest scores. Snapchat only got 26 out of 100 on the organization’s scale, whereas Skype received 40 out of 100. This is due to the fact that end-to-end encryption is not used, although it is highly recommendet to do so, according to Amnesty.

The report explaines that “The apps were marked on their use of encryption and privacy safeguards, as well as how well they advised their users of the app’s security, and whether they released details of government requests for user data.” Furthermore, Sherif Elsayed-Ali stated that “It is up to tech firms to respond to well-known threats to their users’ privacy and freedom of expression, yet many companies are falling at the first hurdle by failing to provide an adequate level of encryption”.

Therefore, it is to note that although they are the world-leading messaging applications, Skype and Snapchat are among the least secure on the market, according to Amnesty.

Newest Google instant messaging app criticized due to lack of end-to-end encryption by default

24. May 2016

Allo, the new instant messaging app from Google, has been presented this week and is expected to be available for users this summer. As many other technological companies, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or Apple, Google has decided to implement end-to-end encryption in this app. End-to-end encryption ensures privacy in certain messaging and video call apps so that not even authorities have access to the information stored.

However, unlike WhatsApp, Facebook messenger or iMessage, end-to-end encryption in Allo has to be activated by the user by selecting the “incognito” mode, what has been subject to strong criticism. As Google explained, end-to-end encryption is not activated by default in order to be able to connect it with the functionalities of Google Assistant, which provides tailored recommendations to its users according to the data stored in Google apps. This means that queries to Google’s own servers may be necessary. If “incognito” mode is active Google Assistant’s features may not be able to be used.

Morey Haber, Vice-President of technology, at the cybersecurity company BeyondTrust, acknowledges the possibility to combine end-to-end encryption with the artificial intelligence feature, but he admits that in this case it is not possible that the queries to Google Assistant are fully processed.

Google engineer, Thai Duong, has posted in his personal blog about the security and privacy features of the app.