When Google announced the launch of two new messaging apps, the world wondered why. Duo is focused on video calling, while Allo is a more traditional messaging tool, albeit one with a Google assistant built in.
But while the world shrugged, Edward Snowden issued a stark warning. He says that Allo should be avoided, pointing out that the lack of end-to-end encryption makes it "dangerous".
As he has been known to do quite a lot recently, the former NSA contractor took to Twitter to issue his warning. With the current focus on software security and computer users' heightened awareness of privacy issues, Google's decision to turn off end-to-end encryption is slightly baffling. It led Snowden to say: "Google's decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in its new #Allo chat app is dangerous, and makes it unsafe. Avoid it for now."
He later pointed out that even security experts at Google thought that the decision was a mistake. One of them, Thai Duong, blogged about it. He advocates the inclusion of end-to-end encryption within the confines of being "a means to a real end which is disappearing messages". He says that people are more concerned about the physical security and privacy of their devices rather than remote threats posed by a lack of encryption:
Snowden was quick to notice the post, and the fact that it was later tweaked by the author: "#Google's security expert blogged, discussing how #Allo is unsafe by default.
Hours later, he erased that part."
It's not clear whether or not Google has plans to introduce end-to-end encryption into Allo, but until it happens you might want to heed Snowden's advice and give it a wide berth.
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