A new photo messaging app, Glitchi, promises to not only make sending photos private and secure using a PGP-esque encryption protocol, but is also designed in such a way that it’s dead simple for anyone to use.
For those unfamiliar with public private key encryption, it’s a simple concept. Everyone on the platform has a public key and a private key. Attaching the public key of your friend (or public keys of your friends) to an image acts as the “lock,” determining who is allowed to open the photo. The intended receiver can then unlock the photo using their private key. In this case, the encryption, or locking, comes in the form of photo glitching, which you can selectively apply to your images with a few swipes of your finger.
Because of this encryption method, Glitchi has no need for passwords. But perhaps the true genius of this app’s design is that you don’t need to memorize the lengthy public or private keys, or even learn how they work, to take advantage of the security benefits. When sending a message, entering the recipient’s phone number will call up their public key, which is stored on Glitchi’s servers. When receiving a message, using the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor will bring up your private key, which is stored securely on your phone (and nowhere else). Because of this verification process, Glitchi photos can only be viewed on the phones of the people in the conversation.
Sidorko and Annadurai really went all out in their encryption. On their blog they break down various scenarios that could compromise the photos, like a lost phone, or a hack into Glitchi’s servers, explaining how each has been considered and neutralized. The app can only run on one device at a time, so in the case of a stolen phone, as soon as a new device is activated with the same phone number, the old phone will be unable to access photos. Their servers only store the glitched-out versions of your photos, which will be useless to a hacker without a key (which, remember, includes your fingerprint). These measures cut down the likelihood of your photos being hacked, or accessed without your permission, to almost nothing. But of course, screenshots are still possible.
Glitchi’s creators, technologist Rajan Annadurai, who works in security, and graphic designer Marina Sidorko, explain on the product’s site that last year’s celebrity photo hacking scandals were what inspired them to build the app. “We realized this could happen to any one of us,” they write. Sidorko adds on Glitchi’s blog, “We wanted to give people back their right to privacy.” She explains that the glitchy effect was a a way to visually represent the security the app provides. It also makes for a fun reveal for the app’s users.
Users can also use the app to send images with text, that can be written in a variety of pleasing color combinations. One nice thing about Glitchi is how friendly its design looks, with its pastel colors and cute animations–unlike many encryption services, it won’t turn off people who don’t understand the technical reasons for using it. This may be the beginning of an era of mass marketed encryption services. Perhaps Glitchi really will be the next Snapchat. Glitchi is currently free in the app store. Get it before they figure out how to monetize it.
[via Prosthetic Knowledge]