The online social media and social networking behemoth known as Facebook has incorporated encryption technology within one of its new tools.
Available via GitHub, the new encryption technology called Asynchronous Ratcheting Tree (ART) allows users to apply encryption to their social media group chats. The open source tool has been created to increase the level of security offered across Facebook’s chat applications including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and the Signal App.
Developed by Facebook Software Engineers and Computer Science students from Oxford University, in the event of a data or security breach, ART looks to re-establish secure communications for the group conversation, instead of leaving the entry point open for a hacker to return in the future.
The method of protection involves ART setting up a group of keys for a set number of agents. This will remain secure, even when users are not online and after a total compromise.
Before ART was introduced, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and the Signal App used a simpler key-transport mechanism which does not achieve post-compromise security. So, should a cyber attacker gain access to one member of the group within the chat, they would be able to indefinitely read future communications anonymously without detection. With billions of active users connected globally through social networking, social networking providers have started realizing the security risks associated with their platforms.
As well as being utilized for social network security, encryption is being deployed as the go-to security technology for those in the security industry, especially for data protection. ART follows the rules of encryption by giving the power of security to those in control of the security keys. Enterprises will see the appeal of ART as it reduces the security risk posed by social media, which is seen by hackers as an avenue to the organizations networks.