The Cybersecurity 202: Leak charges against Treasury official show encrypted apps only as secure as you make them

THE KEY

The Treasury Department building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. (Paul J. Richards/ AFP)

Encrypted messaging apps offer crucial protections for those who want to safeguard their communications from prying eyes. But a high-profile leak investigation is a reminder that the apps may provide a false sense of security for people who do not use them correctly or take other security precautions.

The government unveiled criminal charges Wednesday against a Treasury Department employee accused of leaking confidential banking reports involving key figures in the special counsel’s probe of Russian election interference. Prosecutors say Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior official at the department’s financial crimes unit, sent photos of the documents through an encrypted app to a reporter, who used them as the basis for a dozen stories related to the probe, as my colleagues Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report. The exchanges allegedly included materials related to former Trump campaign chairman

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