WhatsApp has added end the end encryption but in this article, you will learn “everything is not what it seems”
WhatsApp has been getting plaudits for recently updating their encryption. The popular messenger service app recently added end to end encryption to its devices thus restricting any outside interferences from seeing messages that are not intended for them. Or is it? Reports indicate that under all the news of encryption that WhatsApp is going to offer they have a right to hold on to large amounts of message data at a time.
A line in the privacy terms of WhatsApp suggests that the company might store the date, time and the recipient of messages sent to the service. Micah Lee, a The Intercept journalist who revealed the line, tweeted a pic of the mentioned line. However, WhatsApp claims the actual content of the messages is not held on the servers at all.
Awesome that @WhatsApp is encrypted, but keep in mind it doesn't hide who you're texting https://t.co/i8G61TUo9i pic.twitter.com/PbXN3IF8UJ
— Micah (@micahflee) April 5, 2016
The information that WhatsApp is able to see is still useful to any rogue attacker, which allows them to see the time stamp, the recipient, and sender if the message which they might use for themselves. The government can request for this information as well.
The new encryption system WhatsApp implemented has been a long time coming, taking one and a half years. The messenger app teamed up with Open Whisper Systems to create the encryption system.
WhatsApp Doesn’t Encrypt Everything
However, some people are still not convinced that WhatsApp has put encryption at its forefront. A Twitter user by the name, YourAnonNews, revealed that even though WhatsApp had introduced end-to-end encryption, their parent company Facebook was still suspect in data safety.
Facebook’s role in this new encryption
With news that WhatsApp increased the encryption, questions were being asked of its parents company’s role, Facebook, in the news. WhatsApp which was bought by Facebook for a reported $19 billion, handles more than 64 billion messages per day and has over a billion active users.
The initial acquisition of the messenger service was met with many questions. The primary one was whether Facebook would still keep the security of users as WhatsApp did before the acquisition. Reports from the White House which showed that Facebook also collects data from its users and shares it with the government was also another cause for concern.
WhatsApp founder, Jan Koum, wrote at the time that, “If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously,” he said. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change. Everything that has made WhatsApp the leader in personal messaging will still be in place.”
There has been a series of security holes in the WhatsApp system and many of them are documented. Dutch security expert, Bass Bosscherrt, said flaws were present in the messenger app which could be used by rogue elements in the society allowing them to create rogue apps. He also explained the security flaws of WhatsApp indicating that the problems were there even before Facebook had purchased the company.
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What do others use as an alternative?
With so much scrutiny on WhatsApp’s security system and encryption before and after they were a subsidiary of Facebook, one wonders what the best messaging service app to use without compromising yourself is.
Edward Snowden, former CIA and government contractor who stole data from NSA and leaked it, recently said that he preferred using message app Signal, for his end to end encrypted texting.
The app which is a product of Open Whisper Systems is available on both the Android Google Play Store and the iOS App Store.
Don't get excited about #WhatsApp encryption, they probably have a backdoor, they're still owned by #Facebook (government contractor)
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) April 5, 2016
Open Whisper Systems, plans to merge two apps, TextSecure, and RedPhone into one which is Signal. TextSecure users will simply get an update message to get Signal while RedPhone users have to install the new app altogether.
Signal is a messaging app that offers text, group chats and calls on iOS and Android. Photos and videos are also allowed on the app which uses end to end encryption with all its messages. This allows users to send messages without outside interference. Contacts are added through address book rather than pins.
The app is also open source allowing developers to find if there are irregularities in the system. Open Whisper Systems is the partner in WhatsApp’s own end to end encryption system. The developers have worked on many security systems so they are highly qualified and their app is secure.