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Signal Working on Advanced Method to Keep Contacts Secret

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Sep 27, 2017, 9:58 AM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

The developer of secure messaging app Signal is working on an advanced new technique to fully encrypt and anonymize the process of contact discovery (matching a user's phone contacts with existing Signal users.) Although Signal currently anonymizes this data and says they do not store it, it is data that could theoretically be intercepted and de-anonymized by a hacker or government agency. The new method addresses these concerns using secure enclave technology built into modern Intel chips. The technique allows the client app (which is open-source) to run the contact-matching code within a secure enclave on Signal's servers. The technology also allows the client app to confirm that the contact-matching code is secure from observation by other code on Signal's servers, and has not been tampered with. That way, even if a hacker or government agency infiltrates Signal's servers, they would not be able to tell which contacts a Signal user has matched. The technology was originally developed by Intel to enable DRM for copyrighted video content, but Signal is using the technology in a novel way. The new feature is expected to roll out in the next few months.

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