New Messaging Layer Security standard improves group chat security and privacy

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 24, 2023

Our private conversations are increasingly moving online through messaging apps, chat services, and social platforms. From one-on-one communications to communications with small and large groups.

With communication moving online, malicious groups, governments, marketing companies and other third-parties are interested in gaining access to these communications. An emerging technology called the Messaging Layer Security (MLS) protocol may provide an answer by improving the security and privacy of communication and especially group communications.

The Internet Engineering Task Force has released the standard for Messaging Layer Security protocol this week. It claims that MLS "provides unsurpassed security and privacy for users of group communications applications".

The new standard provides end-to-end encryption for group communication, which ensures that communication is private and secure. This prevents the servers, operators, or anyone else from accessing the private contents, even if they intercept the encrypted data packets being transmitted.

MLS supports security standards and properties such as Forward Secrecy or Post-Compromise Security. The standard uses a continuous group key agreement, which basically means that participants agree on a shared key that is the heart of the communication. Groups may consist of just a few members or thousands, MLS has the capabilities of security the environment.

Group members know which other chat members receive the messages and the legitimacy of new members is checked when entering.

Another benefit of MLS is that is application agnostic. Several major organizations have already pledged to implement and deploy MLS, including Google, Cloudflare, Cisco, Mozilla, Meta and The Foundation.

Advantages of MLS:

  • True end-to-end encryption for stronger security and privacy
  • Forward secrecy ensures messages stay secure even if encryption keys later become compromised
  • Asynchronous messaging support allows secure communication even if both parties are not actively online at the same time
  • Flexible architecture integrates well with modern messaging systems and protocols

Potential Issues and Challenges:

  • Large group chats can strain performance and require more computing resources
  • Metadata like message timestamps are not encrypted, only the content
  • Requires consistent software/protocol updates as encryption methods advance
  • Legal concerns around enabling truly private discussions online

While not a flawless silver bullet, MLS appears to be a major step forward in balancing message security and practicality for real-world communication systems. As long as the implementation challenges can be overcome, MLS could become an essential component of trustworthy online messaging platforms. (via Mozilla)

New Messaging Layer Security standard improves group chat security and privacy
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New Messaging Layer Security standard improves group chat security and privacy
The Internet Engineering Task Force has released the standard for Messaging Layer Security protocol this week.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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