Open Whisper Systems has taken mobile device voice and texting to a new level with the release of its Signal 2.0 app.
The original version of the free, open source, encryption app for iOS encrypted calls between phones on which the Signal app was installed. Version 2.0 add encryption for SMS text message as well as voice communication. This is but another step in the agile development process for which the objective is “a unified app that will work on iPhones, Android-based phones, and desktops.”
Signal 2.0 ensures complete end-to-end encryption of voice and text based on the TextSecure protocol. The app has already been cited as easy to use and, although it is open-source, it nonetheless features forward secrecy, eliminating the potential for a once hacked, always hacked scenario. In other words, if someone is able to decrypt your message, they will not be able to do so to future messages, because forward security utilizes a new, random key for every session.
The Humorous Side of Cellular Security
In most cases, there is no humorous aspect to security. It is interesting at the very least to note that some Signal users have complained that the app requests access to their contact list. This is a case of being overly sensitive about messaging security that goes back to the days of tin can and string telecommunications. Just as that communication required another person with a tin can attached at the other end of the string, so does modern encryption technology.
And, just as it would be foolish to speak into a tin can and a string without the string being attached to the right person with another tin can, so it is necessary that the app knows that the person you want to contact has his or her own tin can.
The Serious Side of Cellular Security
Lest we forget, there are even government agencies that would like to eavesdrop on our messages. The forward secrecy aspect of Signal 2.0 stymies their efforts as well. The significance of this matter has not been overlooked by the popular WhatsApp. Although not yet fully encrypted over all platforms, WhatsApp has partnered wth Open Whisper for encryption of their own messaging system.
Cellular security is, indeed important, for governments, businesses, and individuals. Ask anyone (except Hillary Clinton). The Intercept recently issued the following caveat.
“It’s important to keep in mind that no technology is 100 percent secure, and an encrypted messaging app can only be as secure as the device you install it on. Intelligence agencies and other hackers can still exploit security bugs that have not been fixed, known as zero-day exploits, to take over smartphones and bypass the encryption that privacy apps employ. But apps like Signal go a long way to making mass surveillance of billions of innocent people infeasible.”