WhatsApp is not the most secure communication app, but it is the most popular. While other messaging platforms, such as Signal and Wickr, are developed with a security-first technology, WhatsApp has a mix of end-to-end encryption and easy-to-use function that has ended up winning more users over the years.
The app has planned an update that allegedly makes its two billion users more secure and protected, while also adding a new function as well. However, until this update rolls out, your data is not as secure as you might have thought, as there is a major security flaw. But it was reported by WABetaInfo today, May 21st, that two important changes are now in beta and are expected to be made available soon.
Working on Security
The first change expected with the next update is absolutely amazing. At the moment, millions of iPhone users depend on ‘Chat Backup’ to store chat history and media on iCloud, If the smartphone is lost or changed, the entire message history with all the media can be restored. However, the ‘media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in iCloud.‘ This means that your private data can be accessed because it doesn’t have the security level the app offers.
Now, as per WABetaInfo, the current iOS beta ‘enables the encryption of chat histories hosted on iCloud, including media—just check WhatsApp Settings.’ This covers a major flaw as the option to store a backup is important, more so with the numerous social engineering hacks that have accessed user accounts.
This important vulnerability has been reported before, stating that when the chats are backed-up from the smartphone, they get decrypted because you are at the end of that encryption. Besides that, your entire data is accessible by Apple or the government in certain cases.
Easier Way to Load Contact Details Into Another Phone
The other feature that comes with the new update for users to send a personal QR code that will upload their contact details into another smartphone. This feature will be available for both iOS and Android devices, and it makes it easier to add a contact to your list on WhatsApp. As per WABetaInfo, the QR codes can also be changed or revoked, which means that if it was sent by mistake, it would no longer function.
WhatsApp did not comment yet with regards to the this shift, but there is an expectation of multi-platform access to be added to the web platform. There’s also the deep-rooted irony with WhatsApp, with the platform being part of Facebook since 2014, and has still, somehow, remained mainly untouched by the series of security and privacy events of its owning company.
However, German privacy chef Ulrich Kelber ‘warned federal authorities against using WhatsApp’ this week. According to Handelsblatt, the official said that WhatsApp collects metadata when users send messages ‘and it can be assumed this is then immediately passed on to Facebook.‘ This, he said, would jeopardize the privacy of citizens using the app.