I would like to promise you that you’re generally safe from cyberthreats… But that’s just not true. Even Whatsapp, with its end-to-end encryption, has its flaws and threats, as can be seen in its latest launches features.
Is there a way to avoid these cyber-security threats in the first place?
Totally possible… Awareness is the first step.
So, let’s find out what are the latest announced features, as well as the secretly-kept threats.
Whatsapp’s Latest Features
WhatsApp made positive headlines recently, with updates to expand video calling (up to 8-members), cloud backup encryption, and QR code contact details. Plus, you will be able to enjoy multi-device access.
All of these features are included in the beta test.
The latest beta for iOS and Android will also offer the ability to search messages by date and the ability to delete old messages and files, with an option to keep starred messages.
Also, you can now send images to the web, to help identify fake news.
But the most impressive feature so far is the new Person-to-Person payments integration… This one was highly-requested and is a reality (at least in Brazil, for now).
Brazil is the app’s second-biggest market (120 million users), so there’s a reason for it being chosen for the Beta. The biggest market overall is India (400 million users)
WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer, Matt Idema, confirmed that expansion to other countries “would come soon“, but no date was announced.
Idema also said, “We think we can help grow digital payments, help grow the digital economy with small businesses, and help support financial inclusion.”
The Facebook team is also preparing its ground-breaking integration of crossing the chat capabilities of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger.
Once that happens, we all will be able to cross-send money across platforms as well.
The system is enabled by Facebook Pay (already live in several countries, including the U.S. and U.K).
The payments will be completely free, both for sending money to friends or and paying businesses.
Only business owners will pay a fee when purchases are made via this platform.
All of it looks amazing and very promising, but don’t forget we’re here to look at both sides of the coin… What has happened to Whatsapp lately?
Whatsapp’s Latest Threats (2020)
Now, the worrying headlines in the news reflect all the awkward data security breaches Whatsapp suffered in just a few months.
To begin with, it was discovered that the user’s phone numbers were “leaking” online.
Researcher Athul Jayaram reported detailed information on the case, and instructions to confirm it yourself: by typing “site:http://wa.me + <Country Code>” on Google.
He discovered that phone numbers “for almost every country” were easily searchable
Back in February, we came to know about a similar issue related to the WhatsApp web tool
WhatsApp groups were indexed online and could be found with simple Google footprints. It was like an open door for data-stealing scammers.
A Google search returning thousands of numbers is definitely an issue, even if the company initially denied the problem by saying “it was all working as planned”. They ended up fixing the issue.
Security reports not only showed users’ numbers listed on Google, but their profile pictures were up too.
Thankfully, the incident was soon fixed by Google and Whatsapp.
So far, protests groups have clearly shown their discomfort and distrust on Whatsapp and its parent company Facebook. Data concerns were very serious, and now that they’re planning to roll out these commercial features, the risk has grown even more.
The reality is that Whatsapp metadata seems to be exploitable. This primary flaw is the sources of the company’s loss of reputation and worldwide user’s count downfall.
Even if WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, they are confirmed to have security flaws.
The vulnerability is related to your phone, where it stores decrypted messages, and data around those messages (who you message, when, and how often)… Not the app itself.
Are you Safe?
Today’s read was meant to contemplate what’s behind the walls of corporate secrecy.
We showed what the ground reality of apps promising “total security” actually is.
If a company as reputed as WhatsApp suffers from cyber-security problems… Then the worst things can happen to you and your company as well.
MyITGuy is there, to cover your back, without sacrificing anything in the process.