WhatsApp security is a problem, which makes it a popular target for scammers and hackers. Is WhatsApp a secure platform? Here’s everything you need to know about it.
One of the most popular messaging apps in the world is WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta. Over one billion users are said to use the app every day, sending over 65 billion messages.
As a result, security problems, malware threats, and spam have started to arise on the platform. Here’s all you need to know about the most prevalent security issues and frauds on WhatsApp.
1. WhatsApp Web Malware
Because of WhatsApp‘s large user base, it is an obvious target for cybercriminals, many of whom concentrate their efforts on WhatsApp Web. WhatsApp has allowed you to access a website or download a desktop program, scan a code with your phone‘s app, and use WhatsApp on your computer for years.
The App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android are more tightly regulated than the internet as a whole. It’s usually obvious which app is the legitimate one when you search for WhatsApp in their shops. That isn’t the case with the rest of the internet.
Due to a weakness, hackers were able to install WhatsApp malware in some circumstances.
Others used a different tactic, establishing phishing websites to fool you into divulging personal data. Some of these websites pose as WhatsApp Web, requesting your phone number in order to join to the service. They, on the other hand, utilize that number to spam you or correlate it with other leaked or hacked data on the internet.
To be on the safe side, only use apps and services that come from official sources. WhatsApp Web, which you should only access through the WhatsApp website, is a web client that you may use on any computer. Official apps are also available.
2. Unencrypted Backups
WhatsApp messages are encrypted from beginning to end. This implies that they can only be decoded by your device and the recipient’s device. This function protects your messages from being intercepted while they are being transmitted, even by Meta. However, once the communications are decrypted on your device, they are no longer safe.
On Android and iOS, WhatsApp allows you to back up your messages and media. This is a necessary function because it helps you to retrieve WhatsApp messages that have been mistakenly deleted. In addition to a cloud-based backup, your device has a local backup. You may back up your WhatsApp data to Google Drive on Android. If you have an iPhone, iCloud is your backup destination. The messages from your smartphone are decrypted in these backups.
The backup file that you save to iCloud or Google Drive isn’t always encrypted. This file is theoretically insecure because it contains decrypted versions of all your communications, undermining WhatsApp‘s end-to-end encryption.
Because you don’t have a choice in backup location, you’re reliant on cloud services to keep your data safe. Although there have been no large-scale hacking of iCloud or Google Drive to date, this does not rule out the possibility. Attackers may also use different methods to obtain access to your cloud storage accounts.
One of the supposed benefits of encryption is, for better or worse, being able to prevent government and law enforcement from accessing your data. As the unencrypted backup is stored on one of two US-based cloud storage providers, all it would take is a warrant, and the government could have unfettered access to your messages.
Thankfully, WhatsApp updated its service to include end-to-end encrypted chat backups. However, this setting is disabled by default. Go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backup > End-to-end Encrypted Backup and select Turn On to secure your WhatsApp backups.
3. Facebook Data Sharing
In recent years, Meta (previously Facebook) has received a lot of flak. The company’s effective market monopoly and anti-competitive conduct are among the criticisms. Regulators evaluate any takeover efforts in an attempt to reduce anti-competitive activity.
When Meta chose to add WhatsApp to the “Meta Family” in 2014, the European Union (EU) only approved the merger after Meta promised the EU that the two businesses’ data would be kept separate.
Despite the fact that Meta assured users that their information would not be made public on Facebook, the inference was that it would be stored in Facebook‘s inaccessible and hidden profile of you. Meta has changed in the years since to make data exchange easier.
Meta introduced a new data sharing policy for WhatsApp in January 2021, requiring the transfer of your data between the messaging service and the social network. Following customer complaints, the firm announced that everyone who does not opt in to WhatsApp‘s services will be limited.
Meta has eased these penalties again as of June 2021, however it will still encourage users to opt in to the new restrictions.
4. Hoaxes and Fake News
In recent years, social media companies have been criticized for allowing fake news and misinformation to spread on their platforms. Meta, in particular, has been condemned for its role in spreading misinformation throughout the 2020 US Presidential campaign. WhatsApp has also been subject to those same forces.
India and Brazil are two of the most noteworthy examples. WhatsApp has been linked to the widespread violence in India that happened in 2017 and 2018. Messages detailing fictitious kidnappings were sent and disseminated around the site, each one modified with local facts. These statements were widely circulated on social media, leading to the lynching of persons accused of the phony crimes.
Throughout the 2018 elections in Brazil, WhatsApp was the leading source of fake news. Because this type of misinformation was so simple to spread, Brazilian businesspeople formed organizations that ran illegal WhatsApp misinformation campaigns against candidates. They were able to accomplish this since your phone number is your WhatsApp login, therefore they bought phone numbers lists.
5. WhatsApp Status
For a long time, WhatsApp‘s status function, which consists of a single line of text, was the only option to publicize what you were doing at the time. This evolved into WhatsApp Status, a rip-off of Instagram’s famous Stories feature.
Although you can keep your profile private if you choose, Instagram is supposed to be a public platform. WhatsApp, on the other hand, is a more personal communication tool for friends and family. As a result, you might presume that sharing a WhatsApp Status is also private.
That is not the case, however. Your Status can be viewed by everyone in your WhatsApp contacts. Fortunately, you have a lot of control over who sees your Status. You’ll see three privacy options for your Status updates if you go to Settings > Account > Privacy > Status:
My contact information
Except for my contacts…
You can only share with…
Despite its simplicity, WhatsApp does not specify whether or not your blocked contacts can see your Status. However, despite your privacy settings, the corporation has done the right thing, and your blocked contacts are unable to view your Status. Any videos and photographs submitted to your Status will vanish after 24 hours, just like Instagram Stories.