Tech

Google's New Messaging App 'Allo' Dangerous: Expert Cautions Users of Security Breach

By Andrew Collins , May 30, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

Google's new messaging app Allo is scheduled for release this summer. An expert raises serious concerns about the app's security settings, though, tagging the app as dangerous by default.

Edward Snowden is known in online circles as a whistle-blower to many controversies, including one recently reported by Independent UK. Snowden pitched that a Trojan Horse of sorts is included in Google's Allo messaging app, one that disables end-to-end encryption as a default setting.

"Google's decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in its new Allo chat app is dangerous and makes it unsafe. Avoid it for now," Snowden stated in a tweet, responding to a blog by Thai Duong, a Google security expert.

Blog Confession: A Google PR Hiccup

Duong's comments were made as someone not part of the team consulting on Allo's security. Snowden noted the blog was edited after it was uploaded. In the blog update, Duong also commented on the edit:

"I erased a paragraph from this post because it's not cool to publicly discuss or to speculate the intent or future plans for the features of my employer's products, even if it's just my personal opinion."

report by TechCrunch quoted the deleted part in Duong's blog, which asserts that if Allo's Incognito mode is so useful, why did its creators choose Normal mode as default? 

Allo's Smart Reply Feature Comes with a Tradeoff

Allo competes with services, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, with the help of its smart reply feature, suggesting replies to users after scanning and gleaning from messages. Allo also integrates Google's other services into the app, like Google Search and Google Map.

The app comes with two privacy settings, normal and incognito. Even though messages are encrypted in both settings, the default normal setting allows Google's AI to read and analyse messages to derive suggestions for its smart reply feature.

In Incognito mode, only users on each end of the conversation can see and read the messages. Users have to manually toggle this mode on to activate the precaution. 

Google's Allo app is released this summer, on iOS and Android.

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