CyanogenMod’s 10m Users Get Encrypted Text

Moxie Marlinspike’s Whisper Systems brings user-friendly, end-to-end text encryption to the open source mobile OS

All 10 million users of the truly open source Android alternative CyanogenMod will be able to enjoy encrypted text messages from today.

The end-to-end protection comes thanks to a deal with Whisper Systems, whose lead engineer and co-founder is former Twitter security lead and noted researcher Moxie Marlinspike.

CyanogenModRegardless of what SMS application they use, they will be transparently protected, without having to create encryption keys, according to Marlinspike.

CyanogenMod security boost

“As of today, the TextSecure protocol will begin shipping as part of the CyanogenMod OS-level SMS provider, in an effort to provide completely transparent end-to-end text message encryption between all of their users,” Marlinspike wrote in a blog post.

“We’ve modified the Cyanogen SMS/MMS provider to speak the TextSecure protocol. 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. That device will then decrypt the message and deliver it to the system as a normal incoming SMS.”

Marlinspike said a Whisper Systems iOS TextSecure app was nearly finished, whilst work on a browser extension was about to start.

“Soon we will have a truly cross platform seamless asynchronous messaging system built on open protocols and open source software, with an already massive user base,” he added.

A number of organisations, including Silent Circle and Lavabit, are working on protected communications, in light of the Edward Snowden revelations on mass surveillance.

CyanogenMod was forced to remove an installer app from the Google Play store recently, as the tech titan was concerned about the need to root the phone to have the alternative OS load on a phone. The OS can still be downloaded easily, however, using CyanogenMod’s online services rather than the app store.

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