There is an unstoppable growth of WhatsApp users since Facebook acquired it in 2014. Since then, users began to grow leading to more than one billion users per month, sending over 30 billion messages a day.
Thus, issues of security has always been a concern for WhatsApp over the years. This has led to the addition of automatic end-to-end encryption and two-step verification. However, there are still other threats that you need to know more about.
Malware on the Web
Due to the fact that there are more than one billion WhatsApp users, it is almost always open to malicious threats that would exploit popular messaging app. WhatsApp has released a Web interface and desktop application back in 2015, but hackers were able to exploit it with fake websites and applications of WhatsApp stealing data and distributing malware.
Messages sent through WhatsApp have been given an encryption known as end-to-end, which means that your device is the only thing that can decode them. Accordingly, it would prevent your messages from being intercepted at the time of transmission. However, while the messages are on your device, safety can still be compromised.
Facebook Data Sharing
Since the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, there was an assurance that none of the information would be visible publicly. Thus, it would be hidden deep within Facebook that would be inaccessible. Nevertheless, to the disappointment of privacy advocates, data sharing was turned on as a default setting. This would require each of the users to go into settings so that it can be turned off individually.
Vulnerabilities of Encryption
It was reported in January 2017 that the implementation of WhatsApp’s encryption protocol could be exploited. Although the end-to-end encryption is impossible to read during transmission, messages can be decrypted on the phone. A public security key is given to users to verify the device receiving the messages intended for the recipient. However, this key can be modified when moving to a new device or reinstalling the app.
Additionally, there were reports that WhatsApp had the ability to modify security keys for users that are offline. Therefore, they might be able to decrypt and intercept the messages. As a result, WhatsApp can force users to resend messages along with the security key, allowing themselves access to the messages.
Accounts Left Exposed
WhatsApp has a security vulnerability, leading hackers to take over accounts. This was found by a security firm Check Point, confirming that a bug was able to exploit messaging apps. Thus, it was able to access conversations, contacts, photos, videos, and shared files, among others.
The exploitation was known to send some innocent file to the victim. This file contains malicious codes that once the user would click to open it, the attacker would be allowed to access the local storage of WhatsApp where the user data are kept.
Nevertheless, the vulnerability has now been fixed after the report exposed by Check Point. Moreover, there were no proof that hackers may have used the vulnerability of WhatsApp to access personal information.