Thursday, 26 March 2015

Secure Messaging Apps That Terrorists Could Be Using For Communication, Recruiting Insurgents

The Islamic State (ISIS) and other terror groups may need to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for inadvertently recommending to them, which messaging apps to use.
The armed militant group otherwise known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), already control large swathes of lands in the middle east. The group reportedly use technology, along with traditional means, to spread its ideology and recruit people from various countries to join its cause.

Secure Messaging: Double-edged Sword

Given the rise of mobile technology (read: smartphones), there’s no doubt that the rebel group has used this convenience to entice people with extremist inclinations. It is said that technology is a double-edged sword; it makes our lives significantly more comfortable but it also give lots of crooks the opportunity to wreak havoc on our privacy and identity.

Knowing this, more and more tech companies are developing ways to make their services more secure and private–something that mobile messaging apps are already dipping their fingers into. These apps’ goal is to provide a messaging experience to users in a way that they wouldn’t be worried about cybercriminals or even governments spying on their digital correspondence. However, the effect can also be two-way; the same people they are trying to prevent from spying into their communications can also use it to their advantage. On a grimmer note, ISIS or other groups with dangerous intentions could also be using them already to exchange information.

EFF’s List of truly secure messaging Apps

As such, we’d like to present to you a list of messaging apps that people can use to send truly secure communication. We’re not suggesting that ISIS is actually using them; this is meant to inform and give tech users the idea on how mobile devices can be used for good and harmful purposes. Don’t be surprised if don’t see popular apps from Apple, Google, or Blackberry–this list is lifted from a test conducted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The group used seven criteria (or features) into determining which application is truly secure. Here they are:

Is data encrypted in transit? Is it encrypted so the provider can’t read it? Can you verify contacts’ identities? Are past comms secure if your keys are stolen? Is the code open to independent review?Is security design properly documented? Has there been any recent code audit?

Of the 39 applications they tested, only six managed to pass all seven criteria. We’ve listed them below. If you tap on an app’s title, it will lead you to its Google Play listing or their third-party download page. Head over to this post if you want to see the EFF’s full Secure Messaging Scorecard.


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