The French government doesn't consider WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram secure enough, replaced by Olvid (Google translate link in post text)

Another article, much better and presents in more detail that Olvid was audited on an older version and chosen because it was French and they applied for it (French)…/1575168-pourquoi-les-ministres-von…

Google translate link original post : ……/les-ministres-francais-invites-…

The translation has some mistakes but good enough to understand the context.

Here is a short summary :

Olvid passed a 35d intrusion test by Anssi (French cybersecurity state organisation) experts or designated experts, with code examination without finding any security breach. Which is not the case of all other 3 messaging apps (either because they didn’t do any test, or because they didn’t pass).

This makes WhatsApp, signal and telegram unreliable for state security.

And so government members and ministerial offices will have to use Olvid or Tchap (French state in house messaging app).

More detail in the article.

kalistia , avatar

They had Tchap that may not be perfect but is open source (based on matrix/element), hosted in France and already used by 400 000 ppl from the public services… Why pay for a new app? Don’t get it…

suckmyspez ,

It’s not open source…big no no for me 🤷‍♂️

synapse1278 , avatar
suckmyspez ,

Yup I did see they were on GitHub but when I looked the iOS repository is months (and several releases) out of date.

I’d expect an open source project to be working in public…not in private and updating their public repositories later down the line

satan ,

sorry sir, we didn’t realize the world revolves around you. we’ll change it to your liking at once. We’ll run the code by you before we even think of it first

JTskulk ,

It’s not him, it’s the public you dingus. Yes, the world actually does revolve around society and rightfully so.

hedgehog ,

Signal isn’t much better in this regard. They certainly don’t work directly in the public repos - they have internal repos that they work from and they push updates from them to the public repos after the fact.

I’m not sure about the current state but when I looked into it a couple years ago, their client side repos were around a year behind. I recall reading some issues stating that the client was so far behind that the server was refusing to communicate with builds of it.

bamboo ,

Signal’s official policy is that third party clients aren’t permitted, and lacks reproducible builds for their android client. Even if the open source code was up to date, using it without patching it to use a custom server would be a TOS violation.

hedgehog ,

One of the ways Signal doesn’t really feel FOSS that I read about was related to third party clients and the official server. Projects wanted to use forks of their client with the official servers. In one case this was just so they could remove nonfree software. In another they were adding minor features (that Signal would have been free to take back into the main build, since they were under the same license). But Moxie said they couldn’t use their servers, period.

Rokk ,

I feel like for internal government communications you might not want it to be open source.

Doesnt mean everyone else should want to use it.

Tibert OP ,

Another article, much better and presents in more detail that Olvid was audited on an older version and chosen because it was French and they applied for it (French)…/1575168-pourquoi-les-ministres-von…

Kusimulkku ,

Olvid 26, rue Vignon 75009 Paris France

Lmao big surprise.

luthis , avatar

I don’t know much but what I do know is when a government endorses a secure messaging service, it’s definitely not secure.

bamboo ,

They’re using it themselves, not forcing citizens to use it. It’s when they force citizens to use an app they claim is secure that I am distrustful. I would assume their intentions are more pure when it’s their own state security rather than their citizens’ privacy.

merde , avatar

it’s not surprising to see this reaction after learning that their allies were spying on them through nsa

merde , avatar

looks like you have to buy the paid version to make calls 🤷

merde , avatar

on one hand they are trying to illegalize encrypted messaging on the other they’re saying that it’s not secure? 😅

Tibert OP ,

That is an European proposition, and not French at all. France can stand for or against that.

noodlejetski ,
merde , avatar


merde , avatar
spiderkle , avatar

Well that was the dumbest explanation ever, that’s basically just political pretext to give the government contract to some french company. Potentially there has been some lobbying going on.

Signal doesn’t store it’s encryption/decryption keys in the cloud, so you would need the devices and then you would still have to decrypt content if the user doesn’t give you access manually.

To crack a 128-bit AES key, it would take 1 billion billion years with a current supercomputer. To crack a 256-bit AES key, it would take 2^255 / 2,117.8 trillion years on average.

So until some amazing quantum computer comes along, this is pretty safe. Fuck Olvid.

dotMonkey ,

I’m sure there are more attack vectors than that though

themusicman ,

Exactly. “Security assuming nobody fucked up” isn’t enough

LWD , (edited )

[Thread, post or comment was deleted by the author]

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  • topinambour_rex , avatar

    Tchap is the messaging app made for the French gov.

    sudoshakes ,

    Not being able to inspect their code vs no passing are different things.

    lemmyvore ,

    Are they? If you want to know if something is secure enough to use then not being able to examine the code should obviously disqualify it.

    sudoshakes ,

    Sure it does, but that doesn’t make it bad.

    Open source code is not the only solution to secure communication.

    You can be extremely secure on closed source tools as well.

    If they found specific issues with Signal aside from not being allowed to freely inspect their code base, I suspect we would be hearing about it. Instead I don’t see specific security failings just hat it didn’t make the measure for their security software audit.

    As an example of something that is closed source and trusted:

    The software used to load data and debug the F-35 fighter jet.

    Pretty big problem for 16 countries if that isn’t secure… closed source. So much s you can’t even run tests against the device for loading data to the jet live. It’s a problem to sort out, but it’s an example of where highly important communication protocols are not open source and trusted by the governments of many countries.

    If their particular standard here was open source, ok, but they didn’t do anything to assure the version they inspected would be the only version used. In fact every release from that basement pair of programmers could inadvertently have a flaw in it, which this committee would not be reviewing in the code base for its members of parliament.

    Tibert OP , (edited )

    Well let’s give some counter examples in the softwares I mentioned :

    • WhatsApp closed : Owned by Facebook. Well Facebook had multiple data leaks, privacy violations and nothing substantial was done about it. Definitely not trustable (also zero days are getting sold on the black market for WhatsApp (…/zero-days-for-hacking-whatsapp-a… ).
    • Telegram closed : not end to end encrypted. Russian app. Not trustable.
    • Signal open : well this one is e to e encrypted. Open source, maybe could be trusted. Seems to have passed some security audits (…/13243), tho it’s based in the US and uses servers, maybe the US may have super computers capable of decrypting such communications. However is signal has switched their encryption to quantum computer resistance it may be too hard even for a state actor. However they also “debunked”/ignored zero-day reports which were not reported through their own tool, and by asking the US for confirmation. I am not sure if the US can be trusted to give confirmation about the existance or not of vulnerabilities when they are very likely to use them (…/signal-debunks-zero-day-vulne…).
    • Olvid open (servers closed) : is French, e to e, and backed up by an encryption PhD. And why not use a local messaging app witch also is very secure and open source.

    Notice how closed source is untrusted here. The economic activity of the tool changes how trustable it is. Military équipement has a huge and strict budget, it has to be secure.

    Communication apps are user first. So they do what they can get away with, and that is very true for Facebook.

    lemmyvore ,

    Lol at military stuff being secure. Most often it’s not, it’s just hidden. There was an Ars Technica article about the “secure” devices used at military bases being full of holes for example:…/next-gen-osdp-was-supposed-to-m…

    When code is hidden all you know for sure is that you don’t know anything about it. You certainly can’t say it’s secure.

    If a piece of code or a system is really secure then it does not care if the code is open because the security lays in the quality of its algorithms and the strength of the keys.

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