Open Whisper Systems, creator of encrypted communication platform Signal, released an update today as an open beta to enable encrypted video calling. The app previously offered fully end-to-end encrypted chat and voice calling, but the addition of video will make it even easier to convey information without compromising security.The update alsopromises to improve the existing, somewhat clunky, voice calling feature.
Signal, endorsed by whistleblowerEdward Snowden, is used by a diverse group of users. Anyone in a compromised location can take advantage of the apps security features to communicate with others safely and securely. But the apps demographic goes considerably beyond activists and journalists. People who prioritize security more generally use Signal for more benign functions even casual communication with GIFs and other less sensitive content.
Video capabilities should serve both groups, assuming it can perform at a level that matches more traditional, and less secure, services like Apples FaceTime and Googles Hangouts. To that point,Open Whisper Systems is continuing to workon making it easier for developers to incorporate Signal into their products.
Additionally, users will be able to use CallKit in iOS 10 to answer calls directly from their lock screen. Calls via Signal are effectively treated the same way as calls received natively on iPhone. Unfortunately, this integration might create vulnerabilities for the particularly privacyconscious because it will sync call duration and destination with iCloud. This feature can be turned off within your phones settings though if youd prefer to prioritize security over convenience.
Moxie Marlinspike, founder of Open Whisper Systems, doesnt believe that video presents too manyadditional challenges on the technical side when it comes to encryption. The feature simply leverages the existing secure messaging channelSignal is built on.
Real-time encryption is almost more straight forward in some ways, explains Marlinspike. A call is synchronous communication thats somewhat ephemeral which makes cryptography easier.
To try out the new features included in the update, youll need to go into your Signal settings and enable video calling beta under advanced. Just remember that calls wont work if the person youre trying to reach hasnt also enabled video.