Sunbird has shut down its iMessage for Android app due to security issues

Sunbird, the company that makes “iMessage for Android,” has announced that it is temporarily shutting down its Android app due to security concerns. The company has not given an ETA as to when the app may be re-enabled for its users.

Last week, Nothing CEO Carl Pei announced a new app for the Nothing Phone 2 called “Nothing Chats.” Pei claimed that the app enabled users to send an Apple iMessage from an Android phone with most of the benefits of iMessage. The company says that it was able to make this happen through a partnership with Sunbird, which also offered its own app to use iMessage on Android.

When Nothing made the announcement, Pei said that the app wouldn’t “change the world,” but that they built it in order to “start a conversation.” Google has been having a “conversation” with Apple for years to adopt support for RCS on the iPhone for years, and Apple announced last week that it would support the new standard starting next year. iMessage would still remain the “best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”

“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe the RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.

Speaking of security, scrutiny of Sunbird skyrocketed after the Nothing Chats announcement and it turns out that scrutiny was warranted. As reported by 9to5Google, the outlet was able to access “over 630,000 files” accessible through a vulnerability in its software — including messages sent between users. In response, Nothing has pulled the Nothing Chats app and Sunbird has also shut down usage of its Android app “for now.”

Dear Sunbird User. We have decided to pause Sunbird usage for now while we investigate security concerns. We will update you when we are ready to proceed.

Nothing Chats appImage source: Nothing

The company had already been trying to fix security vulnerabilities by sharing media on the app, which it posted about to Reddit, but it appears the security issues extended far and wide from just that issue.

Good afternoon everyone. We are investigating the security issues raised in the last 24 hours. In an abundance of caution and to protect your confidential data, we are shutting down Sunbird media temporarily. We will keep you posted. Thank you, & sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

It’s currently unclear when or if the Sunbird app will return to the Google Play Store. It’s also unclear if Nothing will move forward with the Chats app — even if Sunbird returns and claims all security issues have been resolved.

Personally, I wouldn’t trust a third party with my messages on iMessage — there will inherently be a risk in trusting those messages with any entity that requires them to have access to an encrypted system. Whether it be iMessage, Signal, or any other encrypted messaging service, it’s always most secure to keep everything within that app.

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