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infosec-news: [ISN] Hackers Build Android Encryption Apps For Eg

[ISN] Hackers Build Android Encryption Apps For Egypt

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_nospam>
Date: Fri Feb 11 2011 - 09:49:30 GMT

By Andy Greenberg
The Firewall
Feb. 10 2011

Cellphones may be helping to connect and organize the pro-democracy
protesters massing in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria. But they’re
also offering a new method for authoritarians to track those protesters
and monitor their communications.

So one company, Whisper Systems, is releasing a new way for Egyptians to
thwart wiretaps on their smartphones. On Thursday, it launched an
Egypt-specific version of two applications for Android devices:
RedPhone, an encrypted voice-over-Internet calling app, and TextSecure,
which encrypts users’ text messages. The Egyptian versions of the apps
are available at

“When the protests started in Egypt, we stepped up our efforts to get it
working there,” says a well-known hacker and spokesperson for Whisper
who goes by the name Moxie Marlinspike. “Now we’re ready to release, and
hopefully enable some pro-democracy advocates to communicate and
coordinate without being surveilled.”

Cellphone carriers in Egypt haven’t admitted to monitoring Egyptian
protesters in the recent unrest or handing over their data to the
government. But a Vodafone official in 2009 confessed that Vodafone was
legally required to give up data on a group of Egyptian dissidents in
2008 who had pulled down a large poster of president Hosni Mubarak. Last
week the Vodafone said that it had been forced by the Egyptian
government to use its network to send out propaganda text messages to
users. And when I asked the carrier if it was giving up users’ data, it
responded only that it had “already made made a number of statements in
relation to the situation in Egypt facing all of the mobile operators”
and would “not comment on national security measures.”


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