Google to Enhance Security in Cross-Platform Messaging
Google has been pointing fingers at Apple for not getting on board with RCS, a new messaging standard that includes end-to-end encryption. The tricky part about this system, though, is that both the person sending the message and the person receiving it have to be using the same platform.
But Google’s come up with a solution for this — it’s called Messaging Layer Security, or MLS for short. This new standard is designed to make messaging across different platforms more secure.
The folks who look after the technical rules that form the foundation of the Internet — known as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) — recently gave MLS the thumbs up. MLS provides end-to-end encryption, which is a fancy way of saying that only the people in the conversation can read the messages being sent.
This is where it gets really cool. With MLS, Google Messages can join in and share messages with other messaging apps that also use MLS. In everyday language, this means that you can have a group chat with your friends and send messages that will pop up on their devices, regardless of which messaging app they prefer to use. So you can rest easy knowing that your group chats are safe and secure.
Why it Matters?
Several weaknesses in popular messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, may allow group chats to be intercepted if just one person is compromised, according to an Oxford report released in 2017.
The new standard will not only grant you the flexibility to use any app you like while remaining a member of a group, but MLS will also offer end-to-end encryption across platforms.
All tech businesses operating in this field must adhere to the same standard for such interoperability to be successful in practice.
Without strong standardization, the outcome would be a jumble of ad hoc middleware, according to Google, which would weaken security standards to satisfy the lowest common denominator and increase implementation costs, especially for smaller providers.
“MLS scales to groups of thousands of multi-device users, enabling practical interoperability across services and platforms for the first time. Additionally, it is adaptable enough to enable service providers to address new risks to user security and privacy, such quantum computing, the business continued.
Google has not specify a timeframe for when it intends to integrate MLS into Google Messages, though. However, it did state that by making the Android codebase’s implementation open source, it will assist the widespread adoption of the standard throughout the industry.
The decision comes as the European Union is pressuring tech companies to build an end-to-end encryption system that allows users to safely message between platforms through its Digital Markets Act.
In accordance with the law, Apple must also make iMessage compatible with other messaging services. It might imply that Apple is required to support MLS, at least within the EU. No information is available regarding how it would impact RCS.