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>> Turkish authorities say they were able to trace thousands of people they accused of participating in last month's failed military coup by cracking the encryption features on a previously unknown smartphone messaging app called byLock. I'm Eric O'Shard. I'm based in Frankfurt. I'm the Regional Technology Correspondent. The first thing to understand about this story is that nothing is as it first appears.
Security experts talked to by Reuters in recent days who studied the app said they had never heard of byLock. The Turkish government claims the app was developed by followers of US-based exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who they blame for organizing the coup. Gülen denies any connection to the plot.
Experts in encryption and messaging apps are questioning why a secretive network, plotting against the state, would rely on such inherently insecure programs. They said byLock appeared likely to be developed by amateurs, not experts in spycraft. Fragmentary clues can be found online that show byLock was launched in 2014 on both the Apple and Google Play app stores, only to be withdrawn later the same year.
Code inside the app points to a developer in Beaverton, Oregon as having created the app. But the trail goes cold from there. A senior official in the Turkish government has told Reuter's that the country's intelligence agency was able to identify close to 40,000 undercover Gulanist operatives, including 600 ranking military personnel by mapping out their connections using byLock.
The government says that in recent months the plotters switched to using WhatsApp, the world's most popular messaging app with far stronger encryption. Turkish media has published extended transcripts of the minute-by-minute conversations of officers involved in the coup, as it played out on the evening of July 15th and into the morning of the next day.