App UseCrypt Messenger seeks to outdo rivals with groundbreaking encryption features
However, it has recently emerged that UseCrypt might not be as effective as previously thought. Its creators face numerous allegations, with details on the proceedings provided by WP News.
If you're not sure it's worth investing in encryption software, remember this: even popular chat applications like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp offer secret conversation and message encryption. However, it is tough to trust these solutions from Mark Zuckerberg entirely considering Facebook's requirements for data, which it sells to advertisers.
If you value privacy, consider other applications. One of the most popular is Signal - it's been downloaded over 5 million times from Google Play. Its popularity has grown since characters from the Netflix series House of Cards used Signal for secure communications. In fact, it's even used officially by members of the US Senate. Nevertheless, it was revealed by the BBC that British police can recreate messages and conversations from Signal.
With privacy mattering more than ever, it’s unsurprising that our local version, UseCrypt Messenger, was launched in Poland, promising to be safer than international competitors.
A climate for encryption
"There's no doubt that recent events have played into our hands. We already have downloads from 17 countries. A few days ago, we received references from a military special unit, which purchased a license for our technology. Our rivals are currently in a difficult position. Telegram was forced by FSB to release codes, Signal receives significant funding from the NSA, Viber copies the entire phonebook upon user registration, and Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger are already known culprits," said Jakub Koszka from UseCrypt to WP Tech.
Kamil Kaczyński, a co-creator of the program, explains the technical aspects they believe will make the application successful.
"Unlike many currently available solutions, UseCrypt Messenger uses a mechanism encrypting voice calls independently of the text communication cipher mechanism," Kaczyński shares. "The ZRTP (Zimmermann Real-Time Protocol) we use negotiates a cryptographic key only when the connection is set up between users. Competing solutions use a pre-set key, creating the possibility of backdoors into the software, and thus potentially replaying communication," he adds.
UseCrypt Messenger also conceals the network address of its users. The application uses nodes distributing traffic between users, hiding their IP addresses from each other. Each party only sees the server's IP address. Other instant messengers, like Signal, Viber, or WhatsApp, allow users to locate the other party—this is what Kaczyński highlights.
The location of the application servers also plays a crucial role. Kaczyński explains that most messengers have servers in the United States, exposing metadata to potential threats. UseCrypt Messenger's servers, however, are based in Europe, offering two benefits: non-US jurisdiction, and better accessibility and service performance in Europe,
Besides confidential communication, the Polish solution offers many other features. UseCrypt Messenger evaluates the security status of the device and makes decisions on its capability for secure communication. It also has a detection mechanism for man-in-the-middle attacks, providing distinct connections encrypted differently, according to the mode of communication. It uses the Speex codec for voice compression, delivers HD Voice quality sound, and excludes the possibility of anyone listening into users' conversations from the app's side.
The UseCrypt Messenger application, aimed primarily at businesses where information leaks could cripple operations, is now available on Play Store and the App Store for over $16.
Mission and vision
The application first launched in late October 2017, but its 'real' start is marked as March 2018, against the backdrop of the Facebook scandal and significant changes to the product design. According to its creators, it's not just safe, but convenient.
"The level of security provided by UseCrypt Messenger hasn't compromised the application's features or ergonomics. Users register using their phone number, after which they get information about contacts in their phone book who also use the app. Other features include easily attaching multimedia, and the ability to set a time frame for each message to be read before it's permanently deleted," concludes Kaczyński.
Finally, Koszka emphasizes the company's broader mission—it's not only about the total anonymity of content transmitted. UseCrypt aims to prevent users from falling into the trap of legal trickery and vaguely written agreements, often glossed over just to install a program. They're developing the 'Bringing Privacy Back' initiative—a service letting you read what you agree to when installing applications.
"The main thing for us is to deliver a message that we want to communicate. We want to reclaim the privacy that users surrender when using free applications," explains Koszka. "We include a so-called surveillance check at each application startup, which verifies if the phone has been infected with malware. No other application offers this feature, and we do not store any of this data on our servers," he concludes.