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drawkbox t1_j9x90wo wrote

They have the ability to attach ghost users, the reason they say is moderation/spam, but no backdoor needed with that. The ghost user is able to decrypt like a regular user and syphon out the info.

This was proven with WhatsApp not too long ago and Signal also has the ability to attach users.

Any "secure" encrypted messenger that allows more than 1 to 1 connections will always have the potential for the "ghost user" problem.

System level some use additional connections/recipients for spam/moderation and the moment you allow any invisible/visible group users in, there is a massive potential for an exploit.

Additionally you have the potential for forking off messaging to other users at the system level for either oversight or spam/moderation/other. Some of the compromised systems out there use this very well.

A sneaky way some of these "secure" messaging apps are also doing this is ghost participants in the chat that can essentially syphon off the messages even without a compromised client. The ghost participant is always under the guise of moderation or anti-spam or telemetry or some other proprietary shim.

> The code shows that the messages were secretly duplicated and sent to a “ghost” contact that was hidden from the users’ contact lists.

Lots of "secure" messaging apps do this for intel and surveillance and not just the white hats.

Other areas that "secure" messaging apps have holes in is the anti-spam/moderation systems that need to view messages and in the clients themselves who have access to the unencrypted content. This is also taking place in other client apps as well: VPN, password managers, extensions, wallets, even build systems and more. Many like VPNs have logs sent elsewhere but deleted locally -- access to entire machine and all network access. People are way too trusting of "secure" systems/apps that are very common today based on trust.

All of these apps/systems would pass code checks, reviews, security inspections and essentially be encrypted/"secure" though a copy is sent off to another area for review. At runtime the leak is in the direction of the data.

Then you also have governmental oversight that opens up holes that can be exploited.

On Ghost Users and Messaging Backdoors

> to add a “ghost user” (or in some cases, a “ghost device”) to an existing group chat or calling session. In systems where group membership can be modified by the provider infrastructure, this could mostly be done via changes to the server-side components of the provider’s system.

> I say that it could mostly be done server-side, because there’s a wrinkle. Even if you modify the provider infrastructure to add unauthorized users to a conversation, most existing E2E systems do notify users when a new participant (or device) joins a conversation. Generally speaking, having a stranger wander into your conversation is a great way to notify criminals that the game’s afoot or what have you, so you’ll absolutely want to block this warning.

> While the GCHQ proposal doesn’t go into great detail, it seems to follow that any workable proposal will require providers to suppress those warning messages at the target’s device. This means the proposal will also require changes to the client application as well as the server-side infrastructure.

> (Certain apps like Signal are already somewhat hardened against these changes, because group chat setup is handled in an end-to-end encrypted/authenticated fashion by clients. This prevents the server from inserting new users without the collaboration of at least one group participant. At the moment, however, both WhatsApp and iMessage seem vulnerable to GCHQ’s proposed approach.)

WhatsApp users can now ghost group chats and delete messages for days WhatsApp's latest updates support increased privacy and second-thoughts.

Other messengers also have issues.

Signal + Telegram

  • Default settings in Telegram aren’t encrypted, same with Signal

  • Both sides of a Signal or Telegram conversation have to both have the encryption on

  • Anti-spam filter has to check actual content (proprietary and third party in some cases)

  • Shrouded spectator connections to your chat that may not be visible to you -- part of moderation/spam proprietary hooks. You could have a perfectly clean secure software platform that can still be exposed via normal usage to get data on client or with someone that has access to your comms unencrypted.

  • Connected through your phone number and also your location which narrows it down to exactly you, this is more damning than using ADID, UDID or MAC as this WILL follow you across everything.

  • Users have to be identity validated before they use the app beyond ID bridging.

  • They might be bought someday by someone more unscrupulous with data, all that history going to a private equity firm.

  • Clients have full access to unencrypted data, as well as the server with private keys

  • Even if you trust them now they may not be trustable in the future, see LastPass for an example or Auth0 or ad blockers/extensions or VPNs or even password managers that you trust. All of those need a client on your machine that will have access to elevated permissions and your unencrypted data as they are clients.

  • Source code is delayed after builds. Open doesn't mean much to the end binary if they are putting in proprietary areas and the hash/checksum will be different all the time. Who knows what is in it.

  • Signal gets location, number, identity and more and where you are at. Extreme example: if they know when you shit, they can stage a robbery from third party actors and craigslist style contractors while you’re taking a dump, technically. They know when you’re out for the evening.

  • Also if you have location tracking off they still have IP and device identifier as well as geofenced notifications that don't need the location permission always on. Geofenced location can wake up the app at any time.

  • Signal is recommended by Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk as well as many other potentially sketchy people. Originally these guys were played nice but the people behind them are sketch (Elon being authoritarian funded for instance). Edward Snowden is in Russia and Glenn Greenwald can't say a bad word about Putin. Sketchy that they are the featured testimonials as well as people connected to them.

  • Telegram is funded by Pavel Durov who is essentially Russia's Zuckerberg who is also authoritarian funded. Durov made VK (Russia's Facebook from same MailRU/DST Global funding) and then made their "secure" messenger. Brian Acton ran WhatsApp, bought by Zuckerberg, then made Signal a "secure" messenger. Similar story, same sketchiness even if Signal is less sketchy than Facebook/WhatsApp/Telegram. If someone from Facebook/Meta broke off now and created a "secure" messenger would you believe it and use it now? nah. You think the guys that build social media surveillance aren't just better at it with messengers, a big risk. Alarm bells should be going off if you have good opsec.

  • Telegram feature exposes your precise address to hackers - Messenger maker has expressed no plans to fix location disclosure flaw.

There are NO secure messaging apps, none, unless you wrote your own encryption and shared it with the third party and encrypted before sending outside of that system entirely. If you send an email, that had like PGP that would have worked for a while until the backdoor (Phil Zimmerman was in decades long cases relate to this). But if you make your own encryption and are sending messages in the clear you will get visits so really only military/intel are allowed that. Spy/intel agencies do that all the time but they shroud the messages in content like in the Illegals Program

There is a reason why these "secure" messengers all exploded in the 2010s...

If you think that there are any secure messengers, you are naive. There is always a way to get access to the input, side channel or through a temporary/targeted hole like how Russia/Saudis/MBS/Trump did with Bezos and WhatsApp. That is another area where these "secure" messengers are compromised, in targeted attacks or temporary holes which just happened recently where 1900 people were compromised and they were targeting 3 numbers in it. There is also the social hole where any member of that chat would also have copies.

> Among the 1,900 phone numbers, the attacker explicitly searched for three numbers, and we’ve received a report from one of those three users that their account was re-registered.


veritanuda t1_ja0jogp wrote

> This was proven with WhatsApp not too long ago and Signal also has the ability to attach users.

That maybe true for Whatsapp but Signal has worked hard to tackle that.

Adding users to groups is not possible unless they are already in your contacts in the first place, as Signal pull contacts from your local contacts. But they never share the number, and only if other people have that same number already in their contacts will it be show to both parties.


> Default settings in Telegram aren’t encrypted, same with Signal

That is plain wrong. Telegram does not encrypt by default and not at all in channels. Signal ALWAYS encrypts for one to one and for group chats.

I am not going to go through picking apart all you said, suffice to say not all of it is accurate.