(PatriotWise.com)- The creator of Signal is warning Ukrainians against using the popular messaging app Telegram, citing privacy concerns.
Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Signal, the most secure messaging app in the world, warned in a Twitter thread last week that Telegram isn’t truly an encrypted app in the way people think.
When people hear a messaging app is “encrypted,” they assume that means nobody, not even the company that makes the app, can read their messages. But that’s not the case with Telegram.
Marlinspike explained that if an app is merely encrypted, the company that makes it has the encryption keys to unlock messages at any time. Truly secure messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal are “end-to-end encrypted,” meaning even the makers of the apps can’t access user messages because only the users have the encryption keys.
Telegram can advertise itself as offering “end-to-end encryption” because it includes a feature called “Secret Chat” that encrypts messages sent end-to-end. But since this feature has to be manually enabled by the user, most Telegram users are unlikely to do it for every message sent.
Marlinspike explained that Ukrainians should be wary of Telegram’s lack of true end-to-end encryption because Telegram is a cloud database by default where plaintext copies of every message, photo, video, and document sent or received over the last ten years are stored. All of it, including contacts and group memberships, are available to anyone who has access to that cloud database.
For Ukrainians in particular, this could be problematic as many Telegram employees have family in Russia, Marlinspike explained. He added that Russia could forego hacking into Telegram entirely and instead use those family members as leverage to gain access to Telegram’s database.
Marlinspike isn’t the only one who has raised concerns over Telegram’s lack of true encryption. Many security experts and privacy advocates have long pointed out Telegram’s privacy flaws as well. They have recommended Telegram not be used by journalists, activists, and whistleblowers.