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Russia Ends Ineffective Ban on Telegram Encrypted Messaging App

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Russia this week lifted a nearly two-year ban on messenger app Telegram after it failed to prevent the encrypted platform from being widely used, reports Reuters.


Some Russian media portrayed the move as a capitulation, but the country's media regulator Roskomnadzor said the company had shown "willingness" to help with counterterrorism efforts.
"Roskomnadzor is dropping its demands to restrict access to Telegram messenger in agreement with Russia’s general prosecutor's office," it said in a statement.
The Telegram platform allows people to communicate with each other using end-to-end encryption, meaning no-one – not even Telegram – has access to messages sent between users.

In April 2018, Roskomnadzor began legal proceedings to block the app in the country, after Dubai-based Telegram refused to comply with requests that it hand over the encryption keys that would allow it to access users' data.

But despite blocking IP addresses and VPN services that Telegram may have used to hide traffic, the ensuing ban was largely ineffective.

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said at the time that his company had chosen to do the "only possible thing" and refused to provide Russia with decryption keys to access user messages, "preserving the right of our users privacy in a troubled country."

Telegram has over 200 million users globally. They have included Kremlin staff, who used Telegram to coordinate conference calls with Vladimir Putin's spokesman. Many government officials also use the messenger app to communicate with media.

Article Link: Russia Ends Ineffective Ban on Telegram Encrypted Messaging App
 

opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,785
652
Slovenia, EU
The Telegram platform allows people to communicate with each other using end-to-end encryption, meaning no-one – not even Telegram – has access to messages sent between users.

Why don't i believe them?
 
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kong85

macrumors member
Aug 28, 2011
32
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Singapore
The Telegram platform allows people to communicate with each other using end-to-end encryption, meaning no-one – not even Telegram – has access to messages sent between users.

Why don't i believe them?

Secret chats are e2e encrypted, but the default "cloud chats" involve encryption but not e2e. This allows you to access the cloud-based chats on multiple devices natively, without having to link back to the phone like you do with WhatsApp. Whereas the e2e secret chats are restricted to the device you started / accepted the chat on.
 
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xpxp2002

macrumors 6502
May 3, 2016
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The Telegram platform allows people to communicate with each other using end-to-end encryption, meaning no-one – not even Telegram – has access to messages sent between users.

Why don't i believe them?
Because their roll-your-own-encryption scheme is probably full of weaknesses that the Russians (or through assistance of a "5I's" state) have cracked wide open.

It is often said that the only thing worse than no security is a false sense of security. I can't state strongly enough how bad Telegram is in that regard, because frankly, we don't know how secure Telegram is. Compared to an alternative like Signal, whose entire protocol is open-source and has been audited by third parties and whose apps not only encrypt by default, but have no other mode. I just can't understand why anyone would opt for Telegram when there's a more trustworthy, no cost alternative available.
 
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yurc

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2016
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inside your DSDT
Telegram is my default WhatsApp since Facebook taking over in 2014.

I not FBI target and still adopt safety internet behavior so I won’t make fuss about Telegram encryptions method. Best of all, I’m free from spam since most of spammers now utilize WhatsApp as new platform to getting prey. Bonus, I also free from formality family/unknown groups!!

WhatsApp group display exposed phone number to unknown is big turn off for me. Telegram doesn’t.
It’s also available as standalone client on many OS, I conveniently replying messages while I am on desktop Mac/Windows. It’s not need connected to phone like WhatsApp does.

I also quite often sharing PS/AI files without limitation so far to my peers, uncompressed jpeg, block of codes. It’s was quite productive for messaging class app. I was successfully convert my close relative into telegram for keep in touch.

I was trying signal at first time, but the audience of Signal was less popular here, hence I choose Telegram. Messages on other hand, not so much, not all my pals have Apple devices.

So unless you CIA or FBI target, adopt secure online behavioral, Telegram should be fine.
 
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veryfyodor

macrumors newbie
Jun 19, 2020
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Saint Petersburg, Russia
In my opinion the Russian gov has ended the ban to improve Putin's ratings before upcoming "vote" on changes to the Russian constitution. It might not have anything to do with cracking telegram.
 
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Kyle4

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2010
634
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Canada
I don't understand the obsession of some people/government with regard to other people's privacy or what they do/say in private.

Control and obedience, it's really that simple. They want to make sure they continue having their power and no one steps out of line.
 
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ddtmm

macrumors member
Jul 12, 2010
68
100
Translation: The Russians have achieved full access to Telegram users' messages.
 
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happyprozak

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2008
133
173
Because their roll-your-own-encryption scheme is probably full of weaknesses that the Russians (or through assistance of a "5I's" state) have cracked wide open.

It is often said that the only thing worse than no security is a false sense of security. I can't state strongly enough how bad Telegram is in that regard, because frankly, we don't know how secure Telegram is. Compared to an alternative like Signal, whose entire protocol is open-source and has been audited by third parties and whose apps not only encrypt by default, but have no other mode. I just can't understand why anyone would opt for Telegram when there's a more trustworthy, no cost alternative available.

That's a good question to pose and there is a good answer, people use Telegram because its feature set is fantastic and because they trust Telegram.

To date, Telegram is the only major messenger that has not had major security breaches. There was one issue where authorities were able to track people based on group chats but it wasn't a bug or a security breach in the traditional sense, it was simply authorities taking advantage of how the program worked.

Telegram also has the ability to do end to end encryption if you choose.

I don't believe anyone has end to end encryption for cloud storage of chats. With Telegram you can switch between almost every OS and be able to continue and see your chats, that includes Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. I believe they even have a Linux client.

Telegram also will not turn over your data to authorities the way Apple, Google, Facebook, or Microsoft will so there is also that.

The question I pose is, why bother with Signal and it's limited features when end to end encryption is available in Telegram when needed? I would be interested to know if there is a reason.
 
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mazz0

macrumors 68020
Mar 23, 2011
2,280
1,707
Leeds, UK
“no-one – not even Telegram – has access to messages sent between users.”

“Telegram refused to comply with requests that it hand over the encryption keys that would allow it to access users' data.”

So.. which is it?

Came here to aks the same thing. Anybody able to answer?
 
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happyprozak

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2008
133
173
Came here to aks the same thing. Anybody able to answer?

“no-one – not even Telegram – has access to messages sent between users.”

I've tried reading about message encryption and it is complicated (to me). It's easy to get lost in all of the technical details about how encryption is achieved and who has the keys, etc. I do know that Telegram developed their own encryption using very smart people in mathematics. This is referred to as rolling your own encryption and it is considered a bad thing to do because it's easy to screw up.

I also know that nobody outside of Telegram knows how their encryption works and it can't be evaluated by a third party.

I also know that in order for cloud storage of messages to work that they can't be encrypted end to end which is why Signal does not allow you to access your messages outside of the device you originally used to send and receive the message. This is also the sour point people have with Telegram. With Telegram you can log in from Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and maybe even Linux and log in to your account and see your whole chat history. I can go from my iPhone, to my iPad, to my Windows machine without skipping a beat.

If you use Telegram's end to end encryption chat then you no longer have access to these messages across several devices but then nobody will be able to see the message outside of the person you send it to and yourself.

“Telegram refused to comply with requests that it hand over the encryption keys that would allow it to access users' data.”

There is no known report that Telegram has ever given up encryption keys or that they have ever turned over data to any authority requesting it.
 
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mazz0

macrumors 68020
Mar 23, 2011
2,280
1,707
Leeds, UK
There is no known report that Telegram has ever given up encryption keys or that they have ever turned over data to any authority requesting it.
The point is if what the article says previously is true then this should go without saying - they can’t hand over the keys because they don’t have the keys. If they do have the keys but have refused to give them over then the previous line about Telegram being unable to read your messages is incorrect.
 
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happyprozak

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2008
133
173
This definitely reads like they cracked the encryption. 💯

The fact that the founder of Telegram is Russian raises flags for sure and Russia lifting its ban also looks suspicious. It's worth mentioning that Telegram moved its servers to a different country to escape the Russian government and it's also worth mentioning that government Russian officials have been using Telegram throughout this whole time.

It's possible Telegram is so popular in Russia that government officials gave up trying to ban it, especially given the fact that they themselves have been using it.
 
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happyprozak

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2008
133
173
The point is if what the article says previously is true then this should go without saying - they can’t hand over the keys because they don’t have the keys. If they do have the keys but have refused to give them over then the previous line about Telegram being unable to read your messages is incorrect.

Telegram has 2 ways to chat which seems to be causing confusion.

  1. The default way to chat stores your chat history in the cloud, I assume Telegram has to have these keys in order to operate the servers that store them. Cloud chat history storage is a valid security concern for every chat service that stores chat history in the cloud. Telegram has an impeccable track record here, better than Apple's iMessage.
  2. Their secret chat feature which is end-to-end encrypted and which they do not have the keys. These secret chats are not stored in the cloud, they reside only on the device originally receiving or sending the message.
 
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