Android App Aims to Allow Wiretap-Proof Cell Phone Calls

Android App Aims to Allow Wiretap-Proof Cell Phone Calls
Android App Aims to Allow Wiretap-Proof Cell Phone Calls 

By Andy Greenberg
The Firewall
May 25, 2010

Worried about the NSA, the FBI, criminals or cyberspies electronically 
eavedropping on your private phone calls? There may be an untappable app 
for that.

On Tuesday, an independent hacker and security researcher who goes by 
the handle Moxie Marlinspike and his Pittsburgh-based startup Whisper 
Systems launched free public betas for two new privacy-focused programs 
on Google's Android mobile platform: RedPhone, a voice over Internet 
protocol (VoIP) program that encrypts phone calls, and TextSecure, an 
app for sending and receiving encrypted text messages and scrambling the 
messages stored in their inbox.

Marlinspike says the apps will interface with users' contact lists and 
other functions on the phone to take the hassle out of making calls and 
sending texts that can't be eavesdropped by third parties. "Our main aim 
is to make this as easy as possible," he says. "We want it to be a 
secure and anonymous drop-in replacement for the normal dialing system 
on your phone."

RedPhone uses ZRTP, an open source Internet voice cryptography scheme 
created by Phil Zimmermann, inventor of the widely-used Pretty Good 
Privacy or PGP encryption. When a caller dials another RedPhone user, 
the app uses the two users' keys to create a simple passphrase 
("flatfoot eskimo" or "slingshot millionaire," for example) and display 
it on each phone, allowing the speakers to verify that the codes match, 
and that there's no man-in-the-middle intercepting the call.


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