Telegram’s Durov Misjudges Signal

This month, Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov criticized the encrypted messaging app Signal in a post dated May 8, accusing its privacy features of being nothing more than a “circus trick.” The post seemed aimed at damaging Signal’s reputation, but considering Durov’s history with Signal and Telegram’s own claims about privacy, his remarks are difficult to take at face value.

Durov has been vocal against Signal for many years. In 2017, he went so far as to predict that a backdoor in Signal’s encryption protocol would be discovered within five years. It has now been seven years, and no such vulnerability has been found, proving Durov wrong. Subsequently, Signal’s founder, Moxie Marlinspike, suggested in a public thread that Telegram should not even be categorized as an encrypted messaging app. Clearly, there is a deep-seated rivalry between the two.

Amidst this ongoing tension, Durov’s latest attack appears to be more of an opportunistic jab at a competitor rather than a genuine warning to users about compromised security. Signal, already under the microscope due to comments by Signal Foundation Chair Katherine Maher, found itself further embroiled in controversy. The incident gained traction on social media, drawing reactions from prominent figures like Jack Dorsey, Vitalik Buterin, and Elon Musk.

As the controversy brewed, Signal worked diligently to address the claims, with the company’s President, Meredith Whittaker, offering clarifications to calm the situation. For the moment, the uproar has simmered down, but the rivalry is far from over. In fact, this latest scuffle hints at a much more heated competition akin to famous rivalries in other fields.

Adding to the anti-Signal sentiment, influential voices like former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson have shared criticisms of the app’s security. Earlier this year on Lex Fridman’s podcast, Carlson voiced doubts about Signal’s security, recounting claims that the NSA had intercepted his Signal messages during his attempts to secure an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Interestingly, Carlson had an interview with Pavel Durov in April. Just a month later, Durov’s post asserted that prominent individuals had informed him of their “private” Signal messages being compromised, hinting Carlson was among these figures. Durov concluded by stating that Telegram remains the only verified private communication method, conveniently positioning his own app as the superior choice.

Telegram’s claims don’t hold up under scrutiny. Unlike Signal, Telegram does not offer end-to-end encryption by default and lacks end-to-end encrypted group chats altogether. Users need to manually opt-in to privacy features, leaving many without sufficient protection. Durov continues to sow doubt about Signal to bolster Telegram’s standing in the market.

Signal, Refrains from endorsing Maher’s political views, emphasizing that trust in the app should be rooted in its highly audited, open-source code rather than in the people managing it. This approach fosters a more trustless model, enabling users to rely on the security of the protocol rather than individual endorsements.

Session, another messaging app claiming robust security credentials, exemplifies an alternative through its decentralized network operated by community members. This network, while ensuring transparency and open-source verifiability, faces challenges such as managing complex key ratcheting crucial for maintaining consistent encryption—a feat more easily managed by Signal’s centralized system. Yet, each approach has its trade-offs between user experience and security.

In the end, no single application can claim to be the ultimate solution for secure communication. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. As public figures weigh in and take sides, the marketplace of secure messaging apps remains competitive and contentious.

Cyrillus Mathewson

Cyrillus Mathewson

22 thoughts on “Telegram’s Durov Misjudges Signal

  1. Instead of criticizing, Durov should take some notes from Signal on how to genuinely secure messaging. Telegram’s far from it!

  2. Every app has its strengths and weaknesses, but it’s the competition that drives innovation!

  3. Durov’s comments reflect his insecurity about Telegram’s standing. Signal has proven its security consistently; can Telegram say the same?

  4. So much drama, but its great to see that privacy and security are being discussed so publicly!

  5. Telegram sure knows how to stir up controversy, but it’s good to see Signal standing its ground 💥🛡️

  6. Seeing prominent figures like Tucker Carlson and Durov weigh in adds so many layers to the debate! Fascinating! 🗞️🤔

  7. Wow, the rivalry between Telegram and Signal is heating up! 📱🔥 It’s fascinating to see big names like Durov and Marlinspike going head to head.

  8. Coming from the guy who runs Telegram, these comments are rich. Fix your app’s privacy issues before pointing fingers at others!

  9. This drama just makes me realize how important it is to stay informed about the privacy features of the apps we use daily!

  10. Telegram vs. Signal: the battle for privacy supremacy continues! And Im here for it.

  11. Same old storyDurov criticizes Signal, but what’s new? Until Telegram’s privacy improves, these rants mean nothing.

  12. Signals response shows their commitment to transparency and user trust!

  13. The intrigue of this ongoing competition is almost like watching a tech-thriller!

  14. Durov’s comments are just a PR stunt to bring down Signal. Focus on improving your own app instead of bad-mouthing others!

  15. Durovs comments are definitely stirring the pot! Who knew messaging apps could be this dramatic?

  16. Durov’s attack on Signal seems more like insecure competitiveness than a genuine concern for user privacy.

  17. Durovs remarks are tough to swallow, especially considering Telegram’s lack of default end-to-end encryption

  18. The more these companies push each other, the better the security features we get! Win-win!

  19. The rivalry just shows how competitive the market for secure messaging apps can be. Everyones pushing boundaries!

  20. I’ve always admired Signals commitment to open-source and audited code. Provides so much more transparency!

  21. Durov’s been predicting Signal’s downfall for years, and yet here we are. I don’t trust his “opportunistic” comments one bit.

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