Home Security NZ-founded SafeSwiss CEO slams Turnbull’s ‘flawed encryption backdoor plan’

NZ-founded SafeSwiss CEO slams Turnbull’s ‘flawed encryption backdoor plan’

Taking the opportunity to alert the world of its highly encrypted messaging app beyond Australia’s jurisdiction, SafeSwiss has made Swiss cheese of Malcolm Turnbull’s encryption troubles.

Tim Gallagher, chief executive of encrypted messaging app SafeSwiss, has “slammed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed backdoor encryption mandate, pointing out the nature of his free secure messaging service for iOS, Android and Windows place it beyond the legal jurisdiction of the Australian Federal Government.”

He also warned users who are concerned about their privacy that “serious design flaws in several competitors (including WhatsApp, Telegram Messenger and WICKR) potentially make them vulnerable to government-mandated backdoors.”

Naturally, SafeSwiss proudly boasts that it “stands apart from competitors because it offers complete end-to-end encryption that is far more robust than any other platform available in the market today".

So, what does SafeSwiss say makes its solution truly different?

SafeSwiss claims its platform’s robust security and privacy is “based on ephemeral messaging using cutting-edge end-to-end (E2E) elliptic curve cryptography encryption, meaning messages can only be decrypted by the sender’s or recipient’s devices in both one-to-one and group communications.”

In addition, we’re told that “users also have peace of mind that the primary servers used by SafeSwiss are in Zurich, Switzerland, which has some of the world's strictest privacy protections. This means the service is beyond the legal reach of backdoor decryption demands of the Australian Government".

Of course, one wonders what happened to Swiss privacy protections when it comes to bank accounts held by US citizens, but that’s a completely different story.

In any case, SafeSwiss says that “to further protect users’ privacy,” the company “does not require users to hand over personal details such as email addresses, phone numbers or even have a SIM card in order to set up an account".

Also supported are “secure peer-to-peer (P2P) voice calls and group voice conference calls, along with many other features, including timed delete".

Unlike its competitors, SafeSwiss says that “delete really means delete.”

SafeSwiss was originally founded in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2015, but it is now based in Lucerne, Switzerland.

As you’d expect, the SafeSwiss app is global, and supports the following languages: Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, Chinese (Mandarin) Chinese (Cantonese), English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

Gallagher had a range of other statements on government surveillance and backdoors, with more statements on privacy and security below.

He said: “Banning or legislating encryption apps is not the answer, this is a true paradox of security against privacy. Legislating against cryptography will drive encryption underground. It will open the doors to malicious attacks from adversary’s everywhere.

“Encryption not only applies to communication. It’s used in banking, purchasing goods online and in FOBs for keyless ignition systems.

“A good preview on how backdoors operate is to look at the US transport security administration (TSA) requirement that all baggage passing or travelling within the US must be equipped with travel sentry locks that are designed to allow anyone with a readily available master key access. As a result, a CNN investigation found thousands of incidents of theft.

“To consider governments to be a trusted third party is extremely misguided. Governments would be better placed to put resources into the source of the problem – the continued brainwashing of predominantly youth under the guise of medieval religion.

“We most certainly are not anti-government nor anti-police. We are pro privacy, and we firmly believe that both privacy and freedom of speech are two basic fundamental human rights.

Gallagher concluded: "Protection of messages, voice calls and files means end-to-end encryption, such as ours at SafeSwiss, where only the intended recipient can view anything sent or hear any voice call. Add the reassurance that the SafeSwiss servers managing any key exchange are located within Europe and you have a world-beating level of protection."

On the topic of the security and privacy offered by SafeSwiss in comparison to its competitors, Gallagher said: "We all come to expect privacy in our daily life this should also extend to our digital life, SafeSwiss certainly goes a long way in minimising your digital footprint.

“Creating a new SafeSwiss account is easy. Users can select their own unique SafeSwiss ID, and are not required to hand over personal details such as email addresses, phone numbers or even have a SIM card.

“This goes a long way in eliminating some of the well-documented vulnerabilities associated with email/phone authentication, as experienced by some of our competitors.”

Gallagher added: "Many people are unaware of just how many providers only encrypt messages and files in transit, meaning that whatever is sent can be extremely vulnerable while sitting unencrypted on a server, in the interval after it's sent and before it's delivered.

“They are also unaware of how deleted messages might remain on servers. Almost daily, we hear stories about hacking, leaking of sensitive information and MiM or MiTM attacks, with stories including some of the leading, supposedly secure providers. SafeSwiss solves all of these problems.”


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.


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