WhatsApp has come under a lot of fire lately concerning security issues which seem to have been circling it for over a year now. Not sure why? Is your memory getting a little foggy and your preference for the app getting the best of your rational recall? If so, let’s look at some not so glorious main events in WhatsApp’s career span.
In May 2011, a security hole came into notice in which WhatsApp user accounts became vulnerable to hijacking. This was then fixed up and then made more secure for all platforms including Android and Symbian. Afterwards however, several sources continued to report allegations against WhatsApp that it failed to encrypt user data. For those not so good with tech lingo, this means that data was being sent in plain text format, and were it to be intercepted by hackers or malware professionals they would have no problems understanding the content. WhatsApp’s use of encryptions only came to be confirmed somewhere in May 2012 – -unforgivably late considering the amount of people globally using WhatsApp for personal exchange.
Then later in September 2011, the updated version of WhatsApp Messenger was released for iOS. This update was known for a number of security flaws as well, resulting in the sending of forged texts and leaving user messages open for all to read.
Then in 2012
Even worse, back in 2012 a hacker had released a Windows Tool that could have been used to change user statuses as long as one knew their phone number, making it clear just how flimsy their security was and more so, that how careless and neglectful their security team really is. According to the same hacker, this was just one of the vulnerabilities present in WhatsApp. WhatsApp on the other hand claimed that this issue had been resolved when in actuality all they managed to do was block the IP address of the problematic website.
In the same series of unfortunate events (and in the same month Jan 2012), WhatsApp was removed from the iOS App Store- -only to return without a word about a week later. The reason is still undisclosed but by now anyone can guess that as per WhatsApp’s bequest, there must have been a major security flaw that Apple needed to take care of. By the end of 2012, a number of security firms, namely H Security, released their research findings on how WhatsApp was nothing but trouble for cross platform communication.
And again in 2013…
Come Jan 2013 and we have governments stepping in and investigating WhatsApp’s breach of international privacy laws. Initially it was prone to attacks and malfunction problems but the onslaught of 2013 has really brought privacy issues into the ring now. The governments of Canada and Holland conducted a joint investigation into WhatsApp’s policies only to find that its access of users address books was illegitimate. The data from the address books was discretely archived and retailed without consent, something that no authority could overlook, despite taking years to get to the point of applying pressure on the US based app.
So the question that arises is that should you keep on using WhatsApp- -even if it later becomes synonymous with WhatsApp spy? Well after looking through the privacy loopholes that seems to be a question only individual answers can answer. Nonetheless, it is better to make informed decisions then go along with ones that are based in the dark.
About the Author
Natalia David writes tech blogs out of her enthusiasm for the changes brought about socially and culturally by internet based technologies. She has written a lot about spying how to’s such as how to spy on whatsApp messages. She can be contacted @NataliaDavid4.