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[liberationtech] Will this work, or just hype?

Ian Young ian.greenleaf at gmail.com
Sat Feb 12 14:25:02 PST 2011


It took me a lot of digging to find even a hint of a technical explanation,
but buried in the FAQ is this:
Q: What if I send a TigerText to someone who does not have TigerText
installed??
A: The user will receive a message from TigerText that encourages them to
install the application...

So they're going with the DRM-style approach, which is exactly as secure as
it always has been. This isn't to say that the service doesn't have some
utility; it protects you against a benign but careless recipient losing
their phone and exposing embarrassing correspondence from you. And
implemented right, it could protect you against eavesdropping (assuming you
trust TigerText themselves). But selling a service on hype like
"self-destructing text messages" without any discussion of the limitations
is disingenuous and dangerous. To piggyback on the other discussion,
outlandish claims like these are a great argument for teaching security
fundamentals to non-security-minded people.

Ian

On Sat, Feb 12, 2011 at 1:28 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at stanford.edu>
wrote:
>
> This Text Message Will Self Destruct In 60 Seconds
>
> By Mike Melanson / February 11, 2011 2:34 PM
>
> The self-destructing message, whether a piece of paper that mystically
disintegrates at the appropriate moment or the microfiche that goes up in a
poof of smoke, is a staple of any spy movie and a childhood wish of my
own. TigerText, a private SMS app, has made my childhood dream a reality.
>
> The company, which has had a free app available, has brought this
spy-novel feature to the enterprise with this week's release of an
enterprise app.
>
> According to TechCrunch, the app lets users determine when and how the
messages are deleted.
>
> As we reported last year, TigerText's mobile apps allows users to send
text messages or photos that can then be deleted off both the sender's and
receiver's phone after a selected period of time. Once a sender selects the
message lifespan (from 1 minute up to 30 days), expired messages are not
only deleted from both phones, but are not stored on any server and they
cannot be retrieved once expired. Users can also select a "Delete on Read"
option, which will delete the text 60 seconds after the recipient opens the
message.
>
> The latest version of the app caters to businesses by allowing users to
perform a one-time login to authenticate with the company. TigerText
describes the app as "a cross-platform collaboration tool for your
organization that allows you to deploy your own private, secure mobile
network where your employees can safely communicate on their existing mobile
devices within your company."
>
> "Text messaging, just like email, can be used against your organization,"
writes the company on its website. "If the messages no longer exist, there
is no risk of data breach or exposure."
>
> The app is available on iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms and
administrators can manage user settings from the Web. It enters an
increasingly crowded space, with apps like Kik,Beluga and GroupMe entering
the free message game, but this one has that special spin for the
security-minded.
>
> From what we can tell, however, the app is missing one huge feature - the
little whisp of smoke, wafting out the crack of your phone case whenever a
message is deleted.
>
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