Feeds

CyanogenMod Android firmware gains built-in SMS encryption

Open WhisperSystems' TextSecure tech now the default

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Users of the CyanogenMod alternative Android firmware gained additional security on Monday, thanks to the integration of Open WhisperSystems' TextSecure protocol.

Founded by security researchers Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson, Open WhisperSystems develops security software that can encrypt voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephone calls and SMS/MMS messages.

Android device owners can install the company's TextSecure SMS security software by downloading it from the Google Play store. But the company announced on Monday that the CyanogenMod project is also shipping the technology baked into its firmwares by default, beginning with current nightly builds of version 10.2.

With TextSecure as part of the default CyanogenMod SMS software, users can choose any SMS app they want and enjoy secure messaging to other TextSecure-enabled devices automatically, whether they are running the software on Android or iOS.

"If an outgoing SMS message is addressed to another CyanogenMod or TextSecure user, it will be transparently encrypted and sent over the data channel as a push message to the receiving device," Marlinspike explained in a blog post. "That device will then decrypt the message and deliver it to the system as a normal incoming SMS."

In the event that the device does not support TextSecure, on the other hand, the messaging layer will fall back to an ordinary, unencrypted SMS channel.

The in-firmware version of the tech supports all of the features of the standalone TextSecure app, including its key exchange protocol and support for multiple cryptographic algorithms.

According to the CyanogenMod team, the code is being integrated with the version 10.2 nightly builds as a trial balloon, but if all goes well, it will be baked into all future builds of CyanogenMod 11, as well.

Marlinspike praised the firmware team's willingness to include the technology on Monday, saying that doing so took "a substantial commitment of time and resources."

"Their genuine resolve to protect their users from large-scale dragnet surveillance is truly remarkable in a world where most companies are instead angling to collect as much information about their users as possible," Marlinspike wrote.

Versions of the CyanogenMod firmware with TextSecure built in are available for a variety of devices via the project's download site. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.