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Apple Unveils PQ3 Protocol - Post-Quantum Encryption for iMessage

Apple Unveils PQ3 Protocol - Post-Quantum Encryption for iMessage
Feb 22, 2024 Quantum Computing / Encryption
Apple has announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol called  PQ3  that it said will be integrated into iMessage to secure the messaging platform against future attacks arising from the threat of a practical quantum computer. "With compromise-resilient encryption and extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks, PQ3 is the first messaging protocol to reach what we call Level 3 security — providing protocol protections that surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," Apple  said . The iPhone maker described the protocol as "groundbreaking," "state-of-the-art," and as having the "strongest security properties" of any cryptographic convention deployed at scale. PQ3 is the latest security guardrail erected by Apple in iMessage after it switched from  RSA  to Elliptic Curve cryptography ( ECC ), and by protecting encryption keys on devices with the Secure Enclave in 2019. While the current algorith

Signal Introduces Usernames, Allowing Users to Keep Their Phone Numbers Private

Signal Introduces Usernames, Allowing Users to Keep Their Phone Numbers Private
Feb 21, 2024 Secure Communication / Anonymity
End-to-end encrypted (E2EE) messaging app Signal said it's piloting a new feature that allows users to create unique usernames (not to be confused with profile names) and keep the phone numbers away from prying eyes. "If you use Signal, your phone number will no longer be visible to everyone you chat with by default," Signal's Randall Sarafa  said . "People who have your number saved in their phone's contacts will still see your phone number since they already know it." Setting a new username requires account holders to provide two or more numbers at the end of it (e.g., axolotl.99) in an effort to keep them "egalitarian and minimize spoofing." Usernames can be changed any number of times, but it's worth noting that they are not logins or handles. Put differently, a username is an anonymous way to initiate conversations on the chat platform without having to share phone numbers. The feature is opt-in, although Signal said it's also taking steps to hide by default users' phone numb

Cybersecurity Tactics FinServ Institutions Can Bank On in 2024

Cybersecurity Tactics FinServ Institutions Can Bank On in 2024
Feb 14, 2024Financial Security / Cyber Threats
The landscape of cybersecurity in financial services is undergoing a rapid transformation. Cybercriminals are exploiting advanced technologies and methodologies, making traditional security measures obsolete. The challenges are compounded for community banks that must safeguard sensitive financial data against the same level of sophisticated threats as larger institutions, but often with more limited resources. The FinServ Threat Landscape Recent trends show an alarming increase in sophisticated cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals now deploy advanced techniques like deep fake technology and AI-powered attacks, making it increasingly difficult for banks to differentiate between legitimate and malicious activities. These developments necessitate a shift towards more sophisticated and adaptive cybersecurity measures. Take these industry statistics, for example. Financial firms report 703 cyberattack attempts per week.1 On average, 270 attacks (entailing unauthorized access of data, appl

Meta Launches Default End-to-End Encryption for Chats and Calls on Messenger

Meta Launches Default End-to-End Encryption for Chats and Calls on Messenger
Dec 07, 2023 Encryption / Data Privacy
Meta has officially begun to  roll out  support for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in Messenger for personal calls and one-to-one personal messages by default in what it called the "most significant milestone yet." "This isn't a routine security update: we rebuilt the app from the ground up, in close consultation with privacy and safety experts," Loredana Crisan, vice president of Messenger at Meta,  said  in a post shared on X (formerly Twitter). CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who announced a "privacy-focused vision for social networking" back in 2019,  said  the update comes "after years of work" redesigning the platform. It's worth noting that E2EE for group messaging in Messenger is still in the testing phase. Encrypted chats were first introduced as an opt-in feature called "secret conversations" in Messenger in 2016. Meta's Instagram also has  support for E2EE  for messages and calls but it's "only available in some

The Critical State of AI in the Cloud

cyber security
websiteWiz.ioArtificial Intelligence / Cloud Security
Wiz Research reveals the explosive growth of AI adoption and what 150,000+ cloud accounts revealed about the AI surge.

WhatsApp Introduces New Privacy Feature to Protect IP Address in Calls

WhatsApp Introduces New Privacy Feature to Protect IP Address in Calls
Nov 08, 2023 Privacy / Data Security
Meta-owned WhatsApp is officially rolling out a  new privacy feature  in its messaging service called "Protect IP Address in Calls" that masks users' IP addresses to other parties by relaying the calls through its servers. "Calls are end-to-end encrypted, so even if a call is relayed through WhatsApp servers, WhatsApp cannot listen to your calls," the company said in a statement shared with The Hacker News. The core idea is to make it harder for bad actors in the call to infer a user's location by securely relaying the connection through WhatsApp servers. However, a tradeoff to enabling the privacy option is a slight dip in call quality. Viewed in that light, it's akin to Apple's  iCloud Private Relay , which adds an anonymity layer by  routing users' Safari browsing sessions  through two secure internet relays. It's worth noting that the "Protect IP Address in Calls" feature has been under development since at least late Augu

Meta Set to Enable Default End-to-End Encryption on Messenger by Year End

Meta Set to Enable Default End-to-End Encryption on Messenger by Year End
Aug 23, 2023 Encryption / Privacy
Meta has once again reaffirmed its plans to roll out support for end-to-end encryption ( E2EE ) by default for one-to-one friends and family chats on Messenger by the end of the year. As part of that effort, the social media giant said it's upgrading "millions more people's chats" effective August 22, 2023, exactly seven months after it  started gradually expanding the feature  to more users in January 2023. The changes are part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "privacy-focused vision for social networking" that was announced in 2019, although it has since encountered significant technical challenges, causing it to  delay its plans  by a year. "Like many messaging services, Messenger and Instagram DMs were originally designed to function via servers," Timothy Buck, product manager for Messenger,  said . "Meta's servers act as the gateway between the message sender and receiver, what we call the clients." However, the addition of an

New Android 14 Security Feature: IT Admins Can Now Disable 2G Networks

New Android 14 Security Feature: IT Admins Can Now Disable 2G Networks
Aug 09, 2023 Mobile Security / Network Attack
Google has introduced a new security feature in Android 14 that allows IT administrators to disable support for 2G cellular networks in their managed device fleet. The search giant said it's introducing a second user setting to turn off support, at the model level, for  null-ciphered cellular connections . "The Android Security Model assumes that all networks are hostile to keep users safe from network packet injection, tampering, or eavesdropping on user traffic," Roger Piqueras Jover, Yomna Nasser, and Sudhi Herle  said . "Android does not rely on link-layer encryption to address this threat model. Instead, Android establishes that all network traffic should be end-to-end encrypted (E2EE)." 2G networks, in particular, employ weak encryption and lack mutual authentication,  rendering  them  susceptible  to over-the-air interception and traffic decryption attacks by impersonating a real 2G tower. The  threat posed by rogue cellular base stations  means th

Google Messages Getting Cross-Platform End-to-End Encryption with MLS Protocol

Google Messages Getting Cross-Platform End-to-End Encryption with MLS Protocol
Jul 24, 2023 Mobile Security / Privacy
Google has announced that it intends to add support for Message Layer Security ( MLS ) to its Messages service for Android and open source an implementation of the specification. "Most modern consumer messaging platforms (including Google Messages) support end-to-end encryption, but users today are limited to communicating with contacts who use the same platform," Giles Hogben, privacy engineering director at Google,  said . "This is why Google is strongly supportive of regulatory efforts that require interoperability for large end-to-end messaging platforms." The development comes as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)  released  the core specification of the Messaging Layer Security (MLS) protocol as a Request for Comments ( RFC 9420 ). Some of the other major companies that have thrown their weight behind the protocol are Amazon Web Services (AWS) Wickr, Cisco, Cloudflare, The Matrix.org Foundation, Mozilla, Phoenix R&D, and Wire. Notably missing f

Apple Threatens to Pull iMessage and FaceTime from U.K. Amid Surveillance Demands

Apple Threatens to Pull iMessage and FaceTime from U.K. Amid Surveillance Demands
Jul 22, 2023 Encryption / Privacy
Apple has warned that it would rather stop offering iMessage and FaceTime services in the U.K. than bowing down to government pressure in response to new proposals that seek to expand digital surveillance powers available to state intelligence agencies. The development, first  reported  by BBC News, makes the iPhone maker the latest to join the chorus of voices protesting against forthcoming legislative changes to the  Investigatory Powers Act  ( IPA ) 2016 in a manner that would effectively render encryption protections ineffective. Specifically, the  Online Safety Bill  requires companies to install technology to scan for child sex exploitation and abuse (CSEA) material and terrorism content in encrypted messaging apps and other services. It also mandates that messaging services clear security features with the Home Office before releasing them and take immediate action to disable them if required without informing the public. While the fact does not explicitly call out for the r

Twitter Finally Rolling Out Encrypted Direct Messages — Starting with Verified Users

Twitter Finally Rolling Out Encrypted Direct Messages — Starting with Verified Users
May 11, 2023 Encryption / Privacy
Twitter is officially beginning to roll out support for  encrypted direct messages (DMs)  on the platform, more than five months after its chief executive Elon Musk  confirmed  plans for the feature in November 2022. The "Phase 1" of the initiative will appear as separate conversations alongside existing direct messages on users' inboxes. Encrypted chats carry a lock icon badge to visually differentiate them. That said, the opt-in feature is currently limited to verified users or affiliates to a verified organization. It's also essential both the sender and recipient are on the latest versions of the Twitter apps across Android, iOS, and desktop web. Another criteria to send and receive encrypted messages is that the recipient must follow the sender, has sent a message to the sender in the past, or has accepted a direct message request from the sender at some point. While Twitter did not disclose the exact method it uses to secure the conversations, the company s

Expert Analysis Reveals Cryptographic Weaknesses in Threema Messaging App

Expert Analysis Reveals Cryptographic Weaknesses in Threema Messaging App
Jan 10, 2023 Privacy / Encryption
A comprehensive analysis of the cryptographic protocols used in the Swiss encrypted messaging application Threema has revealed a number of loopholes that could be exploited to break authentication protections and even recover users' private keys. The seven attacks span three different threat models,  according  to ETH Zurich researchers Kenneth G. Paterson, Matteo Scarlata, and Kien Tuong Truong, who reported the issues to Threema on October 3, 2022. The weaknesses have since been addressed as part of  updates  released by the company on November 29, 2022. Threema is an encrypted messaging app that's used by more than 11 million users as of October 2022. "Security and privacy are deeply ingrained in Threema's DNA," the company  claims  on its website. Officially used by the Swiss Government and the Swiss Army, it's also advertised as a secure alternative alongside other services such as Signal, Meta-owned WhatsApp, and Telegram. While Threema has been sub

Google Takes Gmail Security to the Next Level with Client-Side Encryption

Google Takes Gmail Security to the Next Level with Client-Side Encryption
Dec 18, 2022 Encryption / Email Security
Google on Friday announced that its client-side encryption for Gmail is in beta for Workspace and education customers as part of its efforts to secure emails sent using the web version of the platform. The development comes at a time when concerns about online privacy and data security are at an all-time high, making it a welcome change for users who value the protection of their personal data. To that end, Google Workspace Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Education Standard customers can apply to sign up for the beta until January 20, 2023. It's not available to personal Google Accounts. "Using client-side encryption in Gmail ensures sensitive data in the email body and attachments are indecipherable to Google servers," the company  said  in a post. "Customers retain control over encryption keys and the identity service to access those keys." It is important to know that the latest safeguards offered by Gmail is different from end-to-end encryption.

Apple Boosts Security With New iMessage, Apple ID, and iCloud Protections

Apple Boosts Security With New iMessage, Apple ID, and iCloud Protections
Dec 08, 2022 Data Protection / E2E Encryption
Apple on Wednesday  announced  a raft of security measures, including an Advanced Data Protection setting that enables end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) data backups in its iCloud service. The headlining feature, when turned on, is expected to secure 23 data categories using E2EE, including device and message backups, iCloud Drive, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Voice Memos, Safari Bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, and Wallet Passes. The iPhone maker said the only major iCloud data categories that are still not protected by E2EE are Mail, Contacts, and Calendar because of the "need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems" that use legacy technologies. Advanced Data Protection's E2EE protections for iCloud also mean that users' personal data can only be decrypted on their trusted devices, which retain the encryption keys. "If you enable Advanced Data Protection and then lose access to your account, Apple will not have the encryption keys to help

Elon Musk Confirms Twitter 2.0 will Bring End-to-End Encryption to Direct Messages

Elon Musk Confirms Twitter 2.0 will Bring End-to-End Encryption to Direct Messages
Nov 28, 2022
Twitter chief executive Elon Musk confirmed plans for end-to-end encryption ( E2EE ) for direct messages on the platform. The  feature  is part of Musk's vision for Twitter 2.0, which is expected to be what's called an "everything app." Other functionalities include longform tweets and payments, according to a slide deck shared by Musk over the weekend. The company's plans for encrypted messages first came to light in mid-November 2022, when mobile researcher Jane Manchun Wong  spotted  source code changes in Twitter's Android app referencing conversation keys for E2EE chats. It's worth noting that various other messaging platforms, such as Signal, Threema, WhatsApp, iMessage, Wire, Tox, and Keybase, already support encryption for messages. Google, which previously turned on E2EE for  one-to-one chats  in its RCS-based Messages app for Android, is currently piloting the same option for group chats. Facebook, likewise, began  enabling E2EE  on Messeng

Nearly 1,900 Signal Messenger Accounts Potentially Compromised in Twilio Hack

Nearly 1,900 Signal Messenger Accounts Potentially Compromised in Twilio Hack
Aug 16, 2022
Popular end-to-end encrypted messaging service Signal on Monday disclosed the cyberattack aimed at Twilio earlier this month may have exposed the phone numbers of roughly 1,900 users. "For about 1,900 users, an attacker could have attempted to re-register their number to another device or learned that their number was registered to Signal," the company  said . "All users can rest assured that their message history, contact lists, profile information, whom they'd blocked, and other personal data remain private and secure and were not affected." Signal, which uses Twilio to send SMS verification codes to users registering with the app, said it's in the process of alerting the affected users directly and prompting them to re-register the service on their devices. The development comes less than a week after Twilio  revealed  that data associated with about 125 customer accounts were accessed by malicious actors through a phishing attack that duped the comp

Twitter's New Owner Elon Musk Wants DMs to be End-to-End Encrypted like Signal

Twitter's New Owner Elon Musk Wants DMs to be End-to-End Encrypted like Signal
Apr 28, 2022
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and Twitter's new owner, on Thursday called on adding support for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to the platform's direct messages ( DM ) feature. "Twitter DMs should have end to end encryption like Signal, so no one can spy on or hack your messages," Musk  said  in a tweet. The statement comes days after the microblogging service  announced  it officially entered into an agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, with the transaction valued at approximately US$ 44 billion, or US$ 54.20 per share in cash.  The deal, which is expected to be closed over the next six months, will see it becoming a privately held company. "Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said in a statement. "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making t

Facebook Postpones Plans for E2E Encryption in Messenger, Instagram Until 2023

Facebook Postpones Plans for E2E Encryption in Messenger, Instagram Until 2023
Nov 22, 2021
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, disclosed that it doesn't intend to roll out default end-to-end encryption (E2EE) across all its messaging services until 2023, pushing its original plans by at least a year. "We're taking our time to get this right and we don't plan to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023," Meta's head of safety, Antigone Davis,  said  in a post published in The Telegraph over the weekend. The new scheme, described as a "three-pronged approach," aims to employ a mix of non-encrypted data across its apps as well as account information and reports from users to improve safety and combat abuse, noting that the goal is to deter illegal behavior from happening in the first place, giving users more control, and actively encouraging users to flag harmful messages. Meta had previously  outlined  plans to be "fully end-to-en

Facebook Adds End-to-End Encryption for Audio and Video Calls in Messenger

Facebook Adds End-to-End Encryption for Audio and Video Calls in Messenger
Aug 14, 2021
Facebook on Friday said it's extending end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for voice and video calls in Messenger, along with testing a new opt-in setting that will turn on end-to-end encryption for Instagram DMs. "The content of your messages and calls in an end-to-end encrypted conversation is protected from the moment it leaves your device to the moment it reaches the receiver's device," Messenger's Ruth Kricheli  said  in a post. "This means that nobody else, including Facebook, can see or listen to what's sent or said. Keep in mind, you can report an end-to-end encrypted message to us if something's wrong." The social media behemoth said E2EE is becoming the industry standard for improved privacy and security. It's worth noting that the company's flagship messaging service gained support for E2EE in text chats in 2016, when it added a " secret conversation " option to its app, while communications on its sister platform What

MongoDB 4.2 Introduces End-to-End Field Level Encryption for Databases

MongoDB 4.2 Introduces End-to-End Field Level Encryption for Databases
Jun 20, 2019
At its developer conference held earlier this week in New York, the MongoDB team announced the latest version of its database management software that includes a variety of advanced features, including Field Level Encryption, Distributed Transactions, and Wildcard Indexes. The newly introduced Field Level Encryption (FLE), which will be available in the upcoming MongoDB 4.2 release, is an end-to-end encryption feature that encrypts and decrypts sensitive users' data on the client-side, preventing hackers from accessing plaintext data even if the database instance left exposed online or the server itself gets compromised. Almost every website, app, and service on the Internet today usually encrypt (particularly "hashing") only users' passwords before storing them into the databases, but unfortunately left other sensitive information unencrypted, including users' online activity data and their personal information. Moreover, even if there is an encryption

Hacker Breaks Into French Government's New Secure Messaging App

Hacker Breaks Into French Government's New Secure Messaging App
Apr 19, 2019
A white-hat hacker found a way to get into the French government's newly launched, secure encrypted messaging app that otherwise can only be accessed by officials and politicians with email accounts associated with the government identities. Dubbed " Tchap ," the end-to-end encrypted, open source messaging app has been created by the French government with an aim to keep their officials, parliamentarians and ministers data on servers inside the country over concerns that foreign agencies could use other services to spy on their communications. The Tchap app is built using the Riot client, an open source instant messaging software that implements self-hostable Matrix protocol for end-to-end encrypted communication. Yes, it's the same " Riot and Matrix " that was in the news earlier this week after an unknown hacker breaks into its servers and successfully stole unencrypted private messages, password hashes, access tokens, and GPG keys the project ma
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