Tech

EU Commission to staff: Switch to Signal messaging app

The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications.

The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that “Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.”

The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology.

“Its like Facebooks WhatsApp and Apples iMessage but its based on an encryption protocol thats very innovative,” said Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven. “Because its open-source, you can check whats happening under the hood,” he added.

Signal was developed in 2013 by privacy activists. It is supported by a nonprofit foundation that has the backing of WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who had left the company in 2017 after clashing with Facebooks leadership.

In December 2018, cybersecurity research firm Area 1 Security said it found that thousands of diplomatic cables were downloaded from the EUs COREU (or Courtesy) system

Privacy experts consider that Signals security is superior to other apps. “We cant read your messages or see your calls,” its website reads, “and no one else can either.”

While WhatsApps technology is based on Signals protocol (known as Open Whisper Systems), it isnt open-source. Another popular messaging app, Telegram, meanwhile, faces similar concerns over the lack of transparency on how its encryption works.

EU not-so-confidential

After a series of high-profile incidents that shocked diplomats and officials in Brussels and across the Continent, the European Union is beefing up its cybersecurity standards.

In December 2018, cybersecurity research firm Area 1 Security said it found that thousands of diplomatic cables were downloaded from the EUs COREU (or Courtesy) system, which is used by national governments and EU institutions to exchange day-to-day information on foreign policy.

The use of Signal was mainly recommended for communications between staff and people outside the institution.

Then in June last year, the news broke that the EUs delegation in Moscow had suffered what appeared to be a cybersecurity breach in 2017, with two computers allegedly hacked to steal diplomatic information. The Commission said it was investigating the issue and informed its top diplomats.

The EU on Wednesday said it would soon draft a new European cybersecurity strategy. It announced earlier it would set up a “joint cybersecurity unit” to support EU countries and organizations in the event of an attack.

Commission officials are already required to use encrypted emails to exchange sensitive, non-classified informatRead More – Source