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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Nothing withdraws chat app from Google Play due to privacy concerns

Nothing withdraws its Nothing Chats beta app from Google Play over privacy concerns following revelations of security flaws and potential data access by the platform provider, Sunbird.



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Nothing has temporarily removed its Nothing Chats beta app from Google Play. The company announced it's postponing the launch to address various bugs. The app, designed for Nothing Phone 2 users, allowed texting via iMessage. However, it required users to let Sunbird, the platform provider, access their iCloud accounts through its Mini servers, raising significant privacy concerns.

The decision to pull the app follows widespread criticism after a blog revealed that messages sent via Sunbird's system weren't fully secure. The blog highlighted that these messages were susceptible to external compromise instead of being end-to-end encrypted. The app had only recently launched in beta, following its announcement earlier in the week.

Security flaws exposed

An investigation by 9to5Google, through a thread by site author Dylan Roussel, uncovered Sunbird's method involved decrypting messages and transmitting them via HTTP to a Firebase cloud-syncing server. This process left the messages unencrypted and stored in plain text. Roussel also noted that Sunbird logged these messages as errors using Sentry, a debugging service, implying that the company had access to them.

In response to concerns, Sunbird claimed that HTTP was used only for the initial request from the app to notify the back-end of the impending iMessage connection. This statement was in reply to the vulnerabilities highlighted in the blog. The blog had warned that attackers with access to the Firebase database could intercept messages before or as users read them. It also contradicted Nothing's FAQ, which asserted that Sunbird staff couldn't access sent or received messages.

Company's silence on privacy issues

Despite these revelations, Nothing has yet to respond to requests for comments. The company's silence raises further questions about the app's privacy and security measures. The decision to withdraw the app from the Google Play store underscores tech companies' challenges in balancing innovative features with user privacy and security.

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Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia is a news editor at Tech Edition. Her interest is in technology and startups, occasionally crunching news for gaming. Sofia enjoys playing video games, going on bike rides, and gardening when she isn't behind a keyboard.

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