What are the Biggest Popular Messenger Fails in 2021?
Would you be able to immediately list the biggest scandals of the passing year related to the security of popular messengers? We doubt anyone would be able to do this – there were so many of them!
In this article, we’ve decided to recall the most striking data leaks and popular messenger fails of the outgoing year and once again remind you how important it is to use only a proven messenger, like Utopia P2P.
The list of popular messenger fails
#1 The FBI can get users’ metadata from popular messengers
Perhaps the biggest scandal around the security problems of popular messengers and their cooperation with government agencies is connected with the leak of FBI documents.
As it became known this year, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has access to the data of popular messengers in real time. Moreover, the applications can transmit updated information to the American intelligence services with a frequency of every 15 minutes.
The document is dated January 7, 2021 and does not contain any fundamentally new information, but gives a good idea of what information the FBI can currently receive from services such as iMessage, Line, WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Threema, Viber, WeChat, and Wickr.
It is noted that Signal and Telegram are less willing to “cooperate” with the FBI. The first messenger only provides the security agency with the date and time of the user’s registration. And Pavel Durov’s brainchild does not transmit any data, except for cases concerning terrorism.
We’ve already written about this case here.
WhatsApp has said it will share some of its users’ sensitive data with Facebook. And this was the reason for a colossal scandal and the outflow of users from WhatsApp to other messengers.
The policy affects WhatsApp Business accounts, not regular WhatsApp accounts. The data WhatsApp will provide access to includes phone numbers and transaction data.
Initially, WhatsApp planned to implement the new policy from February 8, 2021. However, faced with severe criticism due to a poorly formulated policy, they were forced to postpone the date to May 15 and then for a more extended period. The new date is January 1, 2022. As the company itself says, all users who have not accepted the new policy will be blocked on this day.
Choose WhatsApp alternatives right now here.
#3 Facebook reads private messages in WhatsApp
The social network Facebook reads and shares personal messages from the WhatsApp messenger, which Facebook owns.
The corporation pays more than 1,000 contract employees worldwide to read these “confidential” messages. Facebook also transfers personal data to law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice.
The company admitted that employees read messages but claims these are sent by users themselves when they find materials containing, for example, cases of fraud, child pornography, or even possible terrorist plots.
However, according to former WhatsApp employees, when a user clicks the “Complain” button, along with the message allegedly violating the platform’s rules, several previous messages are also sent, including videos and photos. And this information is not encrypted. Therefore, it may also be considered to put the user “under surveillance.”
Find out more information about Facebook privacy here.
#4 Signal disclosed user’s data to the U.S. government
The developer of Signal said that the Santa Clara County Police wanted to get precise personal information about particular users, including IP addresses and the date and time for each authorization into the system.
Santa Clara police tried to obtain information about the name, postal address, phone number and email address of a specific Signal user. In addition, billing records, account opening and registration dates, detailed records of incoming and outgoing calls, voice messages, video calls, emails, text messages, and IP addresses, as well as dates and times for each login were also required.
Signal provided law enforcement agencies with only timestamps relative to the account specified in the search warrant. The timestamps showed the dates when the account was last connected to Signal. As the Signal administration noted in its blog, they do not collect the requested information about users by default.
Following this, law enforcement agencies issued a non-disclosure order, according to which Signal could not publicly announce the receipt of a search warrant. The non-disclosure order has been extended four times, resulting in the repeated rejection of Signal’s request to disclose the search warrant.
Signal is not the most secure messaging app. Learn more here.
# 5 Telegram saves users’ correspondence archive
Durov’s messenger is also not very smooth with security.
Telegram also uses end-to-end encryption. Although in private Telegram chats only participants really have keys, in ordinary (cloud) chats, theoretically anyone can get a key.
In addition, in 2016, expert Dirai Mishra discovered that files deleted in Telegram remain on the device after clicking the “Delete for all” button in the chat. So if you send your nuances to the boss by mistake and then immediately delete them, the boss will still be able to look at them as much as he wants. Furthermore, the photos will be saved in his folder on his smartphone upon receipt. And hackers will be able to access files on the device.
Telegram recognized the problem. Mishra was paid 2,500 euros for the discovered bug as part of the bug bounty program.
However, in 2021, this case took a new turn. As it turned out, Telegram keeps an archive of user correspondence for unlimited time and unspecified purposes.
What’s wrong with Telegram saved messages? Read more here.
Alternative to insecure messengers
Of course, these are not all the scandals related to messengers over the past year. However, their scale once again proves that popular messengers cannot ensure the security and confidentiality of data.
Therefore, it is best to use a trusted alternative — Utopia P2P. This is not just a messenger, but a new generation ecosystem. It is Web 3.0, available now.
Utopia does not collect data for registration, track IP, or monitor any online activity. It doesn’t know anything about you. All data is stored in a separate crypto container of each user, so the risk of leakage is minimized.
The most important thing is that Utopia has not been seen in any scandal, unlike its competitors. On the contrary, it is steadily developing and connecting more and more people around the world to the community.
Read more about Utopia P2P here.