Open Whisper Systems stops using encrypted SMS and MMS

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The chat software TextSecure will have to do without support for encrypted SMS and MMS messages in the future. Maker Open Whisper Systems sees too many problems and instead focuses on sending encrypted messages over the data line.

On its blog, Open Whisper Systems announces the end of encrypted SMS and MMS in TextSecure. A number of reasons are put forward for this. For example, with SMS and MMS it is always necessary to exchange a key between two contacts with which encrypted messages can be deciphered. That makes it more difficult for non-technical users to use the functionality. In addition, encrypted SMS and MMS messages do not work on iOS and the technology already has several security vulnerabilities, according to Open Whisper Systems.

All in all, the company finds the reasons given to no longer offer encrypted SMS and MMS in its chat app. However, users can continue to use the internet connection to send messages within TextSecure. That works in the same way as other popular chat applications, such as WhatsApp. In the future, TextSecure must become more reliable via the data connection: To this end, Open Whisper Systems wants to take control of the transport of messages over the network. It now depends on Google’s cloud services.

Version 2.6.0 of TextSecure has now been released. It still includes support for encrypted SMS and MMS. In the next version, with jersey number 2.7.0, the functionality has been removed. However, it is still possible to send SMS and MMS in plain text with TextSecure.

TextSecure is an Android application that, according to the creators, allows users to chat securely, due to the built-in encryption. Earlier this week, the iOS variant, which bears the name Signal, received an update: iPhone users can now also send encrypted messages. Signal is fully compatible with TextSecure, so that messages can also be sent to Android users.

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