Since Telegram launch in 2013, Telegram has grown in popularity in the secure messaging category (its developers claim the app has over 200 million users), but with controversy.
What is Telegram?
Telegram was designed to be a secure messenger that third-parties wouldn’t be able to intercept.
Telegram, the app and non-profit company supporting it, was founded by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. In 2006, Pavel Durov created a Facebook clone for Russia, VKontakte (also referred to as “VK”). After years of clashing with the Russian government over censorship issues on his social networking site, he and his brother fled Russia in 2013 for Buffalo, New York, where they started Telegram. VK is now purportedly owned by allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Telegram soon gained a following, perceived as a safe tool for activists and journalists for their sensitive communications.
But in response to the title of this post
Concerns about the security of Telegram were raised not long after its release.
By default, the app doesn’t encrypt end-to-end communications . You have to manually enable this feature, called Secret Chat. Otherwise, your chats will be saved on Telegram’s servers, which are in various locations throughout the world. The communication between the client (i.e., your phone or other device) and Telegram’s servers is encrypted, and your chat data stored on these servers is encrypted, supposedly.
The Telegram website has available for download the purported source code for the desktop and mobile app versions of Telegram. The Telegram developers say this code allows researchers to evaluate the messenger’s encryption protocol.
The team behind Telegram, led by Nikolai Durov, consists of six ACM champions, half of them Ph.Ds in math. It took them about two years to roll out the current version of MTProto. Names and degrees may indeed not mean as much in some fields as they do in others, but this protocol is the result of thoughtful and prolonged work of professionals.