Encrypted chat app Signal reveals flaws in Cellebrite equipment

Platform News: Signal private messaging app

Encrypted chat app Signal suggested in a blog post published on Wednesday that products sold to law enforcement from Israeli surveillance provider Cellebrite can easily be sabotaged.

Cellebrite DI Ltd, which specializes in helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies copy call logs, texts, photos and other data off of smartphones, has repeatedly come under fire for past sales to authoritarian governments, including Russia and China.

Signal, a privacy-focused app eager to show the lengths it goes to protect users’ conversations, clashed with Cellebrite last year when the Israeli company said its equipment was upgraded to allow law enforcement to scoop up Signal messages from devices in their possession.

Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike said in his blog post that he had come into possession of a bag of Cellebrite equipment and examined the gear inside.

He was “surprised to find that very little care seems to have been given to Cellebrite’s own software security,” Marlinspike said, noting it would be easy to add a specially crafted file onto a phone that would derail Cellebrite’s functionality.

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Cellebrite did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Elsewhere in his blog post, Marlinspike alleged he had found snippets of code from Apple inside Cellebrite’s software, something he said “might present a legal risk for Cellebrite and its users” if it was done without authorization.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Signal’s allegations come as Cellebrite prepares to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm, valuing the equity of the combined company at around $2.4 billion.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Translation from English to a growing list of other languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Raphael Satter. Editing by Richard Chang.

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