Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kakao Talk adds opt-in encryption

Messaging app Kakao Talk's 150 million users can now take advantage of a Secret Chat Mode that applies end-to-end encryption to messages sent and received.
As an app that features prominently on an estimated 95% of smartphones currently in use in South Korea alone, Kakao Talk, like Line, Tango, Viber and of course, WhatsApp, ranks as one of the world's most popular social messaging platforms.
The new feature also means that it can count itself among a growing number of platforms that are starting to take privacy and security more seriously.
In November a study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) highlighted that with the notable exception of Apple's iMessage, none of the leading consumer-facing messaging apps currently on the market offered end-to-end encryption, a feature that prevents anyone other than a message's recipient intercepting a text or picture message and reading its contents.
Although Kakao Talk wasn't among the apps tested for the study, WhatsApp was and following its poor showing, the company announced that it was introducing end-to-end encryption to the platform as standard and that work had begun months before the EFF's report.
Unlike WhatsApp's system, Kakao Talk's end-to-end encryption is only enabled when a user selects Secret Chat Mode and for the moment is confined to one-on-one messages -- a similar group chat feature will be rolling out in early 2015, as will an iOS version of the app with the integrated encryption.

For the moment, Secret Chat is only available in the updated Android app, which has just hit the Google Play Store.

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