Telegram has been one of the most popular messaging apps in recent years due to its focus on privacy and security. However, a recent article published by Wired has caused some controversy regarding Telegram’s security claims. Telegram spokesperson Remi Vaughn refuted Wired and WhatsApp head Will Cathcart’s claims about the security of the popular chat app.
According to Vaughn, the Wired article contained many errors. And the editorial team ignored comments and responses from Telegram, which in turn misled Cathcart. Telegram has compiled a list of nine errors in the Wired article, which can be found on telegra.ph, a minimalistic publishing tool by Telegram.
The list addresses various claims in the Wired article, including the one about location tracking. Telegram clarifies that location tracking is only possible if the user explicitly makes their location publicly visible. Which only 0.01% of users have done.
WhatsApp claims are addressed by Telegram
As for the privacy of secret chats, Vaughn points out that Cathcart is wrong about Telegram’s End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) protocol not being independently verified. A team from the Italy’s University of Udine has verified the MTProto 2.0 protocol used by Telegram for securing its chats. The paper can be found on their website in PDF form.
Note that this is a verification of the protocol rather than a specific implementation. However, Telegram’s app is open source and has used reproducible builds since version 5.13. “Reproducible builds” means that users can compile the publicly available source code and verify that the resulting machine code is identical to the one hosted on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Telegram’s own website. While Telegram servers are not open source, the Udine team also verified the MTProto 2.0 protocol and the presence of malicious servers.
The Udine team did point out one problem that could break the security of secret chats. When starting a secret chat, it is vital for the user to check the fingerprint of the authentication keys through a safe external channel. Otherwise, man-in-the-middle attacks are possible, i.e., a third party user can possibly change messages. The researchers point out that such user error is possible when using the Signal app as well.
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Therefore, if you’re using either app, it is essential to check the fingerprint correctly. A secret chat isn’t truly secret until you do so. And you can’t use the same or other unsecured chat to check that the fingerprint matches.
In conclusion, the controversy surrounding Telegram’s security claims may have been exaggerated. Despite the concerns raised in the Wired article, Telegram has pointed out that many of the claims are not accurate. Additionally, Telegram’s E2EE protocol has been independently verified, and the app is open source and uses reproducible builds. While there is a potential issue with checking authentication keys, this is a problem with many messaging apps, including Signal. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the users to ensure they use the apps correctly and securely.
Telegram’s main features:
Telegram is a popular instant messaging app that offers several great functionalities. Some of the best functionalities of Telegram include:
- Secure messaging: Telegram is popular for its security features, which include end to end encryption and self destructing messages.
- Large file sharing: Telegram allows users to share large files of up to 2GB. Which is much more than other messaging apps.
- Groups and channels: Telegram allows users to create groups and channels with up to 200,000 members. Making it a great platform for large communities and organizations.
- Secret chats: Telegram’s secret chat feature allows for fully encrypted conversations that cannot be forwarded, screenshot, or saved.
- Bots: Telegram allows users to create and use bots that can perform various tasks. Such as booking flights, setting reminders, and more.
- Customizable interface: Telegram allows users to customize the app’s interface, including themes, font sizes, and chat backgrounds.
- Cloud based storage: Telegram uses cloud based storage. Which means that users can access their messages and media from any device. As long as they are signed in to their account.
Overall, these functionalities make Telegram a great messaging app that provides a secure and user friendly experience for its users.