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Telegram Wants to Store Your Real-World ID. Uh, No Thanks

New IdentityTheft Scam

Storing your most sensitive documents online is never a great idea. But that isn’t stopping the Telegram messenger app from trying.

On Thursday, the app’s developers unveiled Telegram Passport, a way to store real-world ID documents over the messaging service so you can easily share them with private parties, like a bank or payment provider.

The feature is meant to be a one-stop solution for carrying and sending your passport ID or financial documents. “Before today, this meant you had to upload the same document scans over and over for each new app. No more,” Telegram said in a blog post.

Telegram claims these sensitive documents will be secured through end-to-end encryption over the app. “It is encrypted with a password that only you know, so Telegram has no access to the data you store in your Telegram passport. When you share data, it goes directly to the recipient,” the developers said.

All data registered to Telegram Passport will eventually be stored over a “decentralized cloud.” However, the messaging app so far hasn’t provided any technical details as to how any of this will occur. There’s also nothing to prevent recipients of the sensitive documents from sharing them with other parties.

“This is a bad, bad, bad idea. I don’t care if it’s end-to-end encrypted, keeping any kind of ID on your phone is a great way to get identity theft,” wrote one user on Reddit. Other critics are also pointing to Telegram’s spotty record on security.

For instance, the app, which comes from two Russian programmers, doesn’t secure your messages through end-to-end encryption by default; you have to enable this over the “secret chat” feature. Telegram also uses its own homegrown encryption protocol, called MTProto, which has been found to contain several vulnerabilities.

Users who do opt-in to Telegram Passport are essentially adding one more way that attackers can potentially obtain their files. But to be fair, many people already send their driver’s license IDs and passport information online, despite the security risks. Sharing your ID documents over email or a cloud service can sometimes be necessary to quickly apply for a loan or register for a new job, for example.

“We don’t store and don’t process any of this data. It’s processed entirely on your device,” Telegram’s Twitter account said in response to skepticism. “We get sequences of symbols which could be anything. Only you have the password that turns them into data.”

If you’re willing to trust Telegram’s word, you can try the new feature through a demo, which will store any data you share for one hour and then discard it. You can upload your passport, driver license, ID card, bank statements and more.

The messaging app is encouraging third parties to integrate Telegram Passport into their own services. EPayments.com, a UK company, is the first to support the new feature.



Source: on 2018-07-27 16:37:26

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