December 10, 2013
In May of 2010, the security researcher known as Moxie Marlinspike launched TextSecure, a free smartphone app that offered open-source end-to-end encryption for text messages. Now that anti-surveillance software is about to add about ten million users, more than ten times as many as it accumulated in the past three and a half years and far more than any other encryption app of its kind.
On Monday Marlinspike announced on the blog of his open-source software organization Whisper Systems that TextSecure will now be integrated by default into the text messaging function of CyanogenMod, the most popular independent rewrite of Android. Any time a CyanogenMod user sends a text message to another user of that operating system or to an Android or iPhone user with the app installed, the message will be invisibly encrypted with a key that’s only stored on the phone itself, not accessible to any surveillance-friendly phone carrier. Because TextSecure uses the phone’s data connection, it also avoids revealing the recipient of a message to carriers, making it much harder for eavesdroppers to determine not only the contents of a conversation but even who is communicating.
“The upshot is that a whole bunch of people are able to get transparent, secure messaging,” says Marlinspike. “This might be the largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted messaging to date.”