Snowden Explains Why Telegram Messenger App is Unsafe

For years, the ex-NSA (National Security Agency) whistleblower Edward Snowden has been raising awareness about so-called secure messaging applications or programs and publically criticised apps like Skype, Google Allo, and Telegram.

In fact, NSA documents leaked by him showed how Microsoft handed over plain text Skype chats of users to the agency. But today, citing the tense situation in Iran, the whistleblower has posted a series of tweets explaining why Telegram Messenger app is unsafe and it can be secured with little effort. 

In his first tweet, Snowden wondered why an app like Telegram has unsafe and censorable public channels when it claims to provide secure messenger service. According to Telegram FAQ page, “Channels are a tool for broadcasting public messages to large audiences.”

He then gave a brief background of Telegram in Iran due to the sudden political unrest and protests against the government and how the authorities can use Telegram app to track user conversations for political advantages since Iran has more than 40 million people using the app.

Earlier today, Telegram shut down a channel that called for “violent protests” against the Iranian government. It happened after Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, Iranian telecommunications minister, tweeted Pavel Durov, the CEO, and founder of Telegram.

And then came the suspension order from the CEO:

Snowden, on the other hand, highlighted the fact that due to its public channels the company will face pressure from the Iranian government. The latest example of it is the suspension of “amadnews” Telegram channel.

Snowden then tweeted to Durov and reminded him of what happened when he was forced from Russia for not doing enough favors at Vkontakte (VK), a Russian-based online social media and social networking service founded by Durov.

He also advised Telegram to come up with features that may help the people by keeping the service accessible “even after the block” by authoritarian regimes. Moreover, Snowden questioned why Telegram still encourages “dangerous cloud messaging instead of secret chats.”

Snowden advised Durov to convert all Iranian Telegram users accounts to 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) and teach them how to use Tor bridges. According to Tor Project, bridges relays are Tor relays that are not listed in the main Tor directory. Since there is no complete public list of them, even if user ISP is filtering connections to all the known Tor relays, they probably will not be able to block all the bridges.

To read all the tweets posted by Snowden click here

Remember, Snowden is a big fan of encrypted messaging app Signal and advises his followers to use Signal. In fact, in one of his tweets, he mentioned using Signal app every day. The only issue with Signal app is that it asks users to submit their phone numbers while signing up. However, there are some steps you can follow to sign up for Signal without giving out your phone number. 

Also, earlier this month, Snowden teamed up with a group of privacy advocates and released an app called Haven that can turn user laptop into a security system and protect their privacy in real time.

More: Internet Bot Exposes 20 Million MTN Irancell Users’ Data


Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.