The Washington Post (sub. req.) reported on June 8th that it appears that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's team is reviewing the encrypted messaging apps of witnesses in the Russia investigation. I'll bet that makes a select group of folks very nervous.
According to CNBC, the team is looking at what experts say are some of the best apps at keeping messages private. Offering people what's known as end-to-end encryption, in which only the sender and the intended recipient can read a message, the apps are designed to help people communicate more securely. They are popular among activists, journalists, security professionals and government officials.
As you probably know, Mueller's team recently accused former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering in his criminal case by trying to contact two witnesses by phone and through encrypted messaging apps. Mueller's examination of witnesses' phones may find private conversations that have not been disclosed to investigators and could potentially reveal exchanges between associates linked to President Trump according to a CNBC report.
So what does Mueller conceivably have? It depends on the app and the article discusses Signal (the best of the best), WhatsApp, Dust, and Confide. Make sure to read the article to understand what is possible with each app, but depending on the app used, folks may be cooperating with Mueller's team and showing messages they deliberately kept, allowing full access to their phones for digital forensics, offering up screenshots, or, where screenshots are not permitted, providing actual photos of the messages even if, in the case of Confide, they had to take photos of each message line by line as it was revealed.
It is noteworthy that cooperation is often key. "Your communications encryption choices are only worth as much as the trustworthiness of the people you're talking to," said Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
My guess is that Mr. Manafort is having second thoughts about the people he trusted.
E-mail: email@example.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology