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Confide

Confide, an ephemeral messaging app, has become popular among government operatives, as Axios reported last week. But now the app's encryption—how it ensures messages can't be intercepted by outsiders—is under question.

While the company claims that its app offers "military-grade encryption," some experts aren't so sure that it's as secure as it sounds.

What Confide says: According to co-founder Jon Brod, "Confide's message encryption is based on the PGP standard" and uses "recommended best practices to ensure the security of network connections, such as using TLS 1.2 with certificate pinning to prevent against [man-in-the-middle] attacks."

For each platform on which it's available, the company has selected various encryption tools—the latest version of OpenSSL for iOS and Spongy Castle for Android. Brod added that the company plans to upgrade to the newest version of OpenSSL in its app's next update. OpenSSL, in particular, raised concerns among security experts as it's been found to have a number of security vulnerabilities over the years, including the Heartbleed bug, which wreaked havoc on the Internet in 2014. Brod says that Confide's Android app uses OpenSSL for one single function but it's not one impacted by Heartbleed or any other published vulnerability.

Questions remain: With that said, it's still difficult to be fully certain of Confide's security as the company's software is proprietary and hasn't been reviewed by a third-party.

"This one's a tough call. The application doesn't smell fully kosher, but at least it uses some standard encryption routines, which many other applications fail to do," computer forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski wrote in a blog post after taking a look at the app. "Ultimately, the application warrants a cryptographic review before I could endorse its use in the White House," he wrote, adding that since OpenSSL isn't FIPS 140-2 compliant (a government encryption standard), it shouldn't be used by government workers.

And as one security expert told Axios, it all depends on how well all of Confide's precautions have been implemented—a sloppy or faulty job could mean the app is far from secure.

What to watch: With reports of staffers using encrypted chat apps, some Congresspeople are already asking for investigations into whether their use violates federal record-keeping laws. On Tuesday, House Republicans Darin LaHood and Lamar Smith sent a letter to the EPA's independent watchdog following news that some employees have been using another app, Signal.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

The latest: Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Hollywood union reaches deal with studios to avert strike

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

A Hollywood workers' union reached a tentative deal with studios, networks and streamers that will guarantee better working conditions, meal breaks and increased wages for low-paid workers, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced Saturday night.

Why it matters: The deal, which still needs to be ratified by IATSE members, will avert a nationwide strike by film and television workers that was set to start Monday. It would have been the first strike in the union's 128-year history.

Bill Clinton released from hospital following treatment for non-COVID infection

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was discharged from the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Sunday, nearly a week after he was admitted for a non-COVID-related infection, according to his spokesperson Angel Ureña.

What they're saying: "His fever and white blood cell count are normalized and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics," wrote Dr. Alpesh Amin, who has been overseeing the team of doctors treating Clinton. "On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress."

Worth noting: Clinton had a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream, per CNN.

  • The California-based medical team had been administering IV antibiotics and fluids, and was in constant communication with Clinton's New York team, including his cardiologist, according to the former president's physicians.
  • President Biden spoke by phone with Clinton on Friday to see how he was doing, and the catch-up included a discussion of recent politics.