Signal Dismisses Hack Rumour As ‘Misinformation Campaign’

Messaging app Signal denies rumours its platform was hacked, saying it is part of a “co-ordinated misinformation campaign”

Secure messaging app Signal has dismissed false rumours that it has been compromised, as usage in Eastern Europe rises.

Signal made the denial on Twitter and said the rumours were often attributed to official government sources and is ‘part of a campaign of misinformation’.

This is not the first time that claims have been made against Signal, after co-founder and former CEO Moxie Marlinspike famously clashed with security specialist Cellebrite in 2020.


Signal denial

And now Signal has once again had to address allegations of a compromise.

“We’ve had an uptick in usage in Eastern Europe & rumors are circulating that Signal is hacked & compromised,” it tweeted. “This is false. Signal is not hacked. We believe these rumors are part of a co-ordinated misinformation campaign meant to encourage people to use less secure alternatives.”

“We’re seeing these rumors appear in messages forwarded on several different apps,” added Signal. “These rumors are often attributed to official government sources and read “attacks on Signal platform.” This is false and Signal is not under attack.”

Signal’s statement comes after a spate of cyberattacks knocked down Ukrainian banking and government websites, along with Russian government owned-websites and state-run media outlets.

Check sources

One security expert warned that people need to check the sources of such claims, in light of the current geopolitical situation.

“This may be a sign of the times with companies fighting to compete with the spread of misinformation around the world,” noted Jake Moore, global cyber security advisor at ESET.

“This race against the clock for targeted victims trying to thwart the spread of false information via trusted platforms is increasingly difficult in the time of fast paced viral posts,” said Moore.

“We are likely to see multiple attempts on many businesses over the coming weeks so it is vital that people fact check their sources before adding to the spread,” Moore concluded.”

Signal surprised some recently when co-founder and CEO Moxie Marlinspike (aka Matthew Rosenfeld) announced his resignation.

He has been replaced by Brian Acton, who was the Signal Foundation’s executive chairman, who steps in as interim chief executive until a permanent CEO is found.

Acton of course is the co-founder of rival messaging service WhatsApp.

Marlinspike, the former security head of Twitter, will remain a board member. He helped Signal achieve more than 40 million users, and it experienced a major growth surge after changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy caused some users to switch.

Such was the concern at the WhatsApp move at the time, that Signal began to be recommended by users such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Cellebrite claims

Marlinspike gained a lot of recognition during Signal’s clash with security specialist Cellebrite, after it astonished the security industry in December 2020 when it claimed it had cracked the encryption of Signal.

Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps on the market, and Cellebrite’s claim was quickly dismissed by Marlinspike, after it emerged that the exploit seemed to work via an unlocked Android phone.

Matters were not helped when Cellebrite significantly altered its original blog on the hacking claim, leading to question marks over the reliability of its original claim.

Marlinspike had his revenge in April 2021 however, when he hacked Cellebrite’s own hacking equipment and software, used by law enforcement to break into Android or iOS phones and supposedly extract secure messages.

Marlinspike said at the time that he and his team had managed to obtain a Cellebrite UFED, complete with the software and hardware dongle.

He joked that it fell off a truck while he was out for a walk.