You are looking at articles written by Dr. Martin Shelton.

Crossfire over messaging security

Johns Hopkins cryptography professor Matthew Green explains that “the cryptography behind Signal (also used in WhatsApp and several other messengers) is open source and has been intensively reviewed by cryptographers. When it comes to cryptography, this is pretty much the gold standard.” By comparison, Telegram does not provide end-to-end encryption protection by default and only offers it as an option in one-on-one “Secret Chat” mode.

Google Docs locks out writer

While it’s powerful and convenient, Google Docs might not be right for all documents, including those that you consider sensitive, private, or that you can’t risk losing. Read more about newsroom privacy and security considerations when using Google Workspace.

Google details app violations

According to its security blog, Google prevented 2.28 million — yes, million — Android apps from being published on its Play Store in 2023. The company says it also removed 333,000 accounts for attempting to deliver malware through the Play Store, as well as for “repeated severe policy violations.” These numbers have grown substantially since 2022, when the company disclosed it prevented 1.43 million apps from being published on the Play Store.

Bill expands US spying powers

Last week, Congress reauthorized a controversial surveillance authority, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. While legislators considered reforms to FISA that would restrain the federal intelligence and law enforcement community’s abilities to spy on American communications without a warrant, they in fact expanded these surveillance powers to subject more electronic communications service providers, such as U.S. cloud computing data centers, to data collection.

Apple warns iPhone users of targeted malware

On April 10, Apple sent users in 92 countries warning of mercenary malware attacks targeting the iPhone. The notification did not provide details about the identities of the attackers. According to TechCrunch, Apple warned, “This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it’s never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning — please take it seriously.”

Preparing for election-related security issues

Throughout this year, our digital security training team will share our thoughts on navigating security issues during the 2024 election season. Elections around the world experience distinct security issues that may change from year to year, but in the U.S. we look to 2020 for lessons on how to get ahead of likely issues, from surveillance of our sensitive communications to perennial phishing attacks and harassment for political reporting.

Google to delete old Chrome Incognito data

Following a class-action lawsuit over Google’s handling of user data in its Chrome browser’s “Incognito” private browsing mode, the search company will expunge “billions of event-level data records that reflect class members’ private browsing activities” improperly collected before January 2024. It also updated its Incognito landing page to highlight that even Google can discern your activities in private browsing mode. Additionally, the company will be required to delete data that makes users’ private browsing data personally identifiable, such as IP addresses.

DOJ sues Apple, spotlighting iMessage

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company engages in monopolistic practices over the smartphone market, preventing competitors by degrading the experience of communicating with non-Apple users in its products. iMessage features prominently in the suit, with the DOJ alleging consumers are disincentivized to leave its “walled garden” and so miss out on unique features built into the iMessage protocol, including end-to-end encryption between Apple users.

Controversy over Mozilla’s anti-data broker service

We recently shared news of Mozilla’s partnership with data removal service Onerep. Through a service it calls Mozilla Monitor Plus, Onerep is designed to automatically scan for personal information on data broker websites. But journalist Brian Krebs has found evidence that the founder of Onerep, purveyor of anti-data broker services, himself created dozens of data broker services. Read more.

WhatsApp now supports messages with third-parties

Under the new European Union law, the Digital Markets Act, Meta is required to allow interoperability between third-party chat software and its WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger apps. These tools offer end-to-end encryption using the Signal protocol, the strong encryption specifications pioneered by the Signal encrypted messaging app.

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