Facebook, secure group chats with new encryption algorithm

Asynchronous Ratcheting Tree (ART) is a security protocol for group conversations that secures user data

One of the main problems of instant messaging applications is the security of user data. If a hacker managed to break through the application's servers, he would have at his disposal a huge amount of information that he could also decide to resell on the dark web.

For this reason, the main instant messaging services have integrated end-to-end encryption that allows to protect conversations from hackers' intrusion. But according to some researchers, end-to-end encryption protects the conversation between two people just fine, but not group chats. The same researchers have created a new security protocol that can be inserted inside group chats and protect it from hackers. The protocol is called Asynchronous Ratcheting Tree (ART) and was created by Jon Millican of Facebook and Katriel Cohn-Gordon, Cas Cremers, Luke Garratt and Kevin Milner of Oxford University.

As a Facebook employee is also involved, it is very likely that the Menlo Park-based company is interested in the research and will try to integrate the protocol within Facebook Messenger.

What is Asynchronous Ratcheting Tree (ART)

The protocol is designed for group conversations that have already been compromised. In case a group of users think that their conversation is being controlled by a hacker, they can use the Asynchronous Ratcheting Tree (ART) protocol and generate a new set of end-to-end encryption keys. The protocol secures the personal accounts of users involved in the conversation, protecting their information.

For the moment Asynchronous Ratcheting Tree (ART) has not been used in any instant messaging service, but Facebook itself could be among the most interested companies. We'll see if more is known in the coming months.