Vulnerabilities / Threats

9/16/2013
10:36 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Post-NSA Leaks, Android Encrypted Texting Arrives

New Android apps bring secure texting to "the masses"

A free Android app for sending encrypted text messages was released today amid escalating privacy concerns that the NSA overstepped its authority in its capture of communications and may have worked to weaken encryption standards.

Wickr's announcement followed that of Silent Circle, which earlier this month began offering a similar free app for its subscribers. Both companies already had offered an iOS version of encrypted text-messaging, but now have added Android secure texting to the mix. Wickr's Android texting app is free. The new apps could potentially propel encrypted texting to the mainstream, experts say.

The new Android encrypted messaging services come on the heels of the shutdown of two encrypted email services -- Lavabit, which closed its doors altogether, and Silent Circle, which dropped its Silent Mail service in the fallout from the Edward Snowden leaks about the NSA's spying programs. Ladar Levison, owner and operator of encrypted email company Lavabit, said he shuttered his business after being faced with having "to become complicit in crimes against the American people," a statement experts say indicates Lavabit may have been pressured to give up customer information or deal with an eavesdropping warrant by the feds.

The New York Times reported last week that the Snowden documents "suggest" the NSA "generated one of the random number generators used in a 2006 N.I.S.T. standard -- called the Dual EC DRBG standard -- which contains a back door for the N.S.A."

[The NSA's systematic crypto-cracking and other tactics have changed the data-protection game for enterprises. See Keep Calm, Keep Encrypting -- With A Few Caveats .]

While some encrypted email services have struggled to find a way to survive commercially post-Snowden leaks, secure text-messaging now is available to the masses.

Nico Sell, CEO and co-founder of Wickr and r00tz, says Wickr agrees with Lavabit's farewell message: Don't trust any U.S. company with your personal information. "We agree completely. This is why we built Wickr to be a zero-knowledge system. We have no keys and no information," Sell said in an email interview. "With this type of architecture, the U.S. is the best place to be to offer private communications to the world. It is also the best place to keep our servers."

Wickr anonymizes users' contacts and can't read the text messages or any content sent by the user. "Therefore, no criminal or rogue government can take them from us," said Robert Statica, co-founder and CTO of Wickr, today in a blog post announcing the new Android service. "It is our commitment to keep our users communications between only them and the intended recipient."

Silent Circle's Silent Text works similarly: no logging of user metadata, and encryption keys reside on users' devices. Both apps also autodelete messages to leave no trace.

One of the challenges of private, anonymous texting is the interface with user contact lists. Sell says Wickr doesn't use address books like many other messaging apps do. "The next update will have an automated connect system that is responsible. We hope this to be a model for all future apps," she says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
anon9865178747
50%
50%
anon9865178747,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2014 | 12:24:21 PM
re: Post-NSA Leaks, Android Encrypted Texting Arrives
Have you ever been accused of mass texting your friends? With MasSMS, impersonal mass text messages will be a thing of the past. MasSMS allows users to customize mass text messages to include each of your recipient's name within the message. This feature will allow users to mass text large groups of people while still personalizing the experience for the end-recipient.

Come join our #Google+community(https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/118041941491247254748) to become a Beta Tester and get all the latest features and enhancements to our Text Messaging replacement app.

Any and all feedback is welcome. Thanks.
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/118041941491247254748

#Android #sms
MROBINSON000
50%
50%
MROBINSON000,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2013 | 11:38:07 AM
re: Post-NSA Leaks, Android Encrypted Texting Arrives
Encrypted texting is a solution for Android users. In addition, hereGs a list with some of the most common flaws in Android development, and a section on how to properly remediate them. This article is mainly focused on Android development, but it applies to other categories as well http://blog.securityinnovation...
Election Websites, Back-End Systems Most at Risk of Cyberattack in Midterms
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/14/2018
Intel Reveals New Spectre-Like Vulnerability
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  8/15/2018
The Data Security Landscape Is Shifting: Is Your Company Prepared?
Francis Dinha, CEO & Co-Founder of OpenVPN,  8/13/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-11771
PUBLISHED: 2018-08-16
When reading a specially crafted ZIP archive, the read method of Apache Commons Compress 1.7 to 1.17's ZipArchiveInputStream can fail to return the correct EOF indication after the end of the stream has been reached. When combined with a java.io.InputStreamReader this can lead to an infinite stream,...
CVE-2018-1715
PUBLISHED: 2018-08-16
IBM Maximo Asset Management 7.6 through 7.6.3 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 14700...
CVE-2017-13106
PUBLISHED: 2018-08-15
Cheetahmobile CM Launcher 3D - Theme, wallpaper, Secure, Efficient, 5.0.3, 2017-09-19, Android application uses a hard-coded key for encryption. Data stored using this key can be decrypted by anyone able to access this key.
CVE-2017-13107
PUBLISHED: 2018-08-15
Live.me - live stream video chat, 3.7.20, 2017-11-06, Android application uses a hard-coded key for encryption. Data stored using this key can be decrypted by anyone able to access this key.
CVE-2017-13108
PUBLISHED: 2018-08-15
DFNDR Security Antivirus, Anti-hacking & Cleaner, 5.0.9, 2017-11-01, Android application uses a hard-coded key for encryption. Data stored using this key can be decrypted by anyone able to access this key.