There are a lot of new secure messaging apps launching lately. It’s a matter of timing: Edward Snowden brought encrypted messaging into the national conversation at about the same time as WhatsApp, Kik, and other messaging apps with millions of users were getting huge valuations. Now John McAfee, antivirus pioneer and former international fugitive, has launched his very own secure messaging service, or at least slapped his name on one.
According to a press release signed by John McAfee, Chadder is a secure messaging app created by etransfr, a Rochester-based security company, “in partnership” with Future Tense Secure Systems, which is McAfee’s company. According to the press release, etransfr worked with developers at the Rochester Institute of Technology to produce the app. It’s not clear how involved McAfee or his organization were in the development of Chadder, but I’ve asked Future Tense Secure Systems for comment and will update if they get back to me.
Chadder is currently available for both Windows Phone and Android, with iOS to come in the near future. The app itself is simple and clean, using four digit codes in place of long PGP keys. Although secure encryption is Chadder’s main selling point, etransfer doesn’t elaborate on the type of encryption it uses. The phrase “so private that we can’t see it ourselves” appears several times in the marketing materials, which would imply end-to-end encryption, although the four-digit code means that Chadder is, at some level, storing private keys.
John McAfee has not been known in the past for work in the field of cryptography. In September, he previewed a mesh networking device that has not hit the market. While McAfee was on the run from police in Belize in 2012, his location was given away by photo EXIF data uploaded with a story on Vice.
In addition to Telegram, the big daddy in the space, there are a variety of secure services vying to encrypt your messages. Confide promises to be a Snapchat for executives, Redphone encrypts phone calls, and Peter Sunde, the founder of the Pirate Bay, is planning to launch Hemlis, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app.