Matignon asked members of the government and ministerial offices to install the French Olvid application on their phones and computers “as a replacement for other instant messaging services in order to strengthen the security of exchanges”reported the services of the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne.
The instruction, formulated in a circular revealed by the weekly Pointnotes that “the main consumer instant messaging applications” (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal) “occupy a growing place in our communications”but “are not devoid of security vulnerabilities”.
Elisabeth Borne thus recommends the deployment “by December 8, 2023 at the latest” from the Olvid app “as a replacement for any other instant messaging deployed outside of a public domain”. “The integration of this solution not only constitutes awareness in terms of cybersecurity, but also a step forward towards greater French sovereignty”she adds.
The only instant messaging certified by Anssi
Created in 2019 by two French cybersecurity experts, Olvid prides itself on being “the most secure instant messaging app in the world”. Its innovation: the removal of the centralized user directory, supposed to allow maximum security of conversations. Messages are end-to-end encrypted, a practice now common in the industry, but on Olvid, their metadata (who speaks to whom and when) is as well.
Available for free on Android, iPhone and computer, the application does not require a phone number to work. For the general public, adding a new contact is done by scanning a QR code. Paid options are available to make audio calls, use multiple devices or facilitate business use.
Since September 2020, the application has been the only instant messaging certified by the National Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi). As the data is not stored on the central server, it does not need to offer any particular security for so-called sensitive data, specifies the circular.
For security experts, the still limited use of Olvid does not make it possible to prove its reliability when scaling up.
The World with AFP