Is WhatsApp Safe and Secure?
When you’re looking into starting to use a new messenger app for your smartphone, you want to know how safe and secure it is before you commit to downloading and installing it. If you’re curious about whether WhatsApp is safe and secure, you’re in the right place.
Recently, WhatsApp introduced end-to-end data encryption. Now each user has a private encryption key that changes each time the user sends a message. A second encryption key is sent to the recipient so that they are the only one who can access the message.
The developers claim that even they do not have access to the content of user messages. This includes state and commercial organizations as well.
But is WhatsApp as safe and secure as the developers claim? Let’s go over it together.
The core concept of WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a communication tool that’s very popular in many countries around the world, with over 1.5 billion total users. It allows users to send text and voice messages from their mobile phone or computer for free.
WhatsApp has the following features:
- Sending and receiving text messages
- Sending and receiving voice messages
- Ability to make video calls
- Sending media files
- Full range of stickers and emoticons
- Built-in secret chats
It looks good from the functional side, but what about from the privacy side?
First, WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption means that all messages, videos, photos, documents, and locations that users share on WhatsApp are converted to a series of codes to prevent unauthorized access. So, no one but the users themselves can access their data.
Second, the messenger allows you to conceal your profile and status from other users. The privacy settings allow you to wholly or partially hide information about yourself, such as your photo or bio, from specific users. In addition, users can also hide their online status in the app, so that other users will not know when they are online. For this, you need to open the settings and configure the necessary parameters.
Finally, the app has a feature to block unwanted contacts. After blocking someone, that user can’t view your profile or see any of your status updates. Nor can they send text and voice messages or make video calls.
Is WhatsApp safe and secure?
Is WhatsApp safe? Recently, The Guardian published an article that discussed a backdoor to the end-to-end encryption used by WhatsApp. According to the report, the government could use this messenger to spy on users. However, later investigation by a group of technical experts concluded that the article had overstated the risks.
Nevertheless, there are still drawbacks to the encryption and data protection system. For instance, if you use WhatsApp while connected to public Wi-Fi, the chances of being hacked by third parties are higher than on a private network.
There are often cases of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. It works like this: a hacker connects to the transferring process of data between users and then simply copies it. That doesn’t sound very nice, because such an attack could cost a reputation or big money if the hacker wants to exchange the copied files for cash.
You can read more information about such hacker attacks in the article 6 Common Types Of Cyber Threats and be ready to protect yourself against criminals.
Is WhatsApp secure? We should note that WhatsApp is the creation of Facebook. There have been many times when we’ve read news about international scandals connected with Facebook insecurity. These are cases where Facebook has provided users’ data to third parties, including states, commercial agencies, and big corporations. Of course, sharing this data without specific permission is supposed to be against the law. Still, Facebook has got away with it and made good money from it, too.
Read The Social Media Giants Age: How Your Data Makes Them Money and finally wake up and smell the coffee.
Is it worth trying or not?
Undoubtedly, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messengers, which is suitable for daily use. As a rule, the system works well with very few bugs. Moreover, it easily copes with its main task – the sending and receiving of text and voice messages.
However, keep in mind that this messenger may be unsuitable for transmitting confidential files and documents since there are potential risks to the security system.
In addition, you need to remember who owns this app. We’ve already mentioned their close relationship with the government and commercial organizations. Therefore, if you want to be sure your data will not be shared through some kind of back-door access (which violates the law on data privacy and can be considered an invasion of privacy), you are better off using a fully secure means of communication.
You probably know other popular messengers like Telegram, Signal, Line, etc. You may have even used them for a while. However, something made you stop doing this and start looking for other, more reliable messengers.
Let me guess, is this a security issue?
We don’t need to be psychic to understand that many people have concerns about the reliability and security of popular messengers. As a rule, they are made for mass consumption, and developers neglect various vulnerabilities of their data encryption methods.
What is the next step? Take our advice: give some attention to the less popular instant messengers. For example, Utopia. This is not just a messenger, but a whole closed ecosystem that includes a built-in browser, email, messenger, crypto wallet, and much more.
Five years went into the development process of Utopia. During that period, developers were able to implement and improve the end-to-end encryption method in the ecosystem. Now, it is based on Elliptic Core and 256-bit AES.
What about a storage server? Utopia creates a single one for each user. Now, a user is both a server and a client. This method of data storage minimizes cyber threats.
Don’t put your data at risk and choose wisely!