Last year’s NSA revelations sparked a great deal of interest in secure messaging apps, from Threema to Telegram to TextSecure, particularly in German-speaking countries where people and businesses are highly sensitive about surveillance. Now you can add another one to the list – and this one comes from the German postal service itself.
Deutsche Post, known internationally as delivery firm DHL, launched a free messenger app called SIMSme on Wednesday, promising end-to-end encryption with passphrases left in the user’s hands. According to the firm, all data is stored on German servers as it passes between users, and is deleted as soon as messages are delivered.
The app is quite comprehensive, featuring group chat and location sharing. What’s more, those willing to pony up 89 euro cents ($1.19) can add a self-destruct function for very sensitive messages and photos, effectively making SIMSme a Snapchat alternative of sorts. The first million users will get this feature for free.
SIMSme, available for iPhone and Android, does require access to the user’s address book, which will raise some eyebrows in the security community. However, Deutsche Post claims that it anonymizes what it finds there and compares it to its user database “in an encrypted manner” in order to establish secure connections. Contacts that aren’t SIMSme users won’t be saved on the company’s servers, it claims.
The app’s terms and conditions also claim that “algorithms and methods considered to be secure according to the current state of the art (recommendations of the Federal Office for Information Security) are used for encryption.” In practice, right now that means symmetrical encryption on the phone using AES-256, with SSL-protected transmission.
Add to this the app’s accreditation by evaluators TÜViT, and it’s likely that Deutsche Post will end up gunning for the enterprise crowd here, though the terms for the app launched today note that commercial use requires a separate license. There’s a lot of mileage in the “made in Germany” brand, for those after a service based in a jurisdiction with tough data protection laws, and Deutsche Post is going to take full advantage of that situation.