A security flaw within WhatsApp may have compromised the security of the application’s 1.5 billion users this week and may not even be the last, according to the app’s competitor Telegram.
Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov joined criticism of Whatsapp after it was revealed that everything on a WhatsApp user’s phone from their private photos, videos, to emails, and texts were open to hackers. In a blog post titled “Why WhatsApp will never be secure,” Durov explained all the reasons he was not surprised by the latest scandal to hit the Facebook-owned company.
“WhatsApp has a consistent history – from zero encryption at its inception to a succession of security issues strangely suitable for surveillance purposes,” he wrote. “Looking back, there hasn’t been a single day in WhatsApp’s ten-year journey when this service was secure.”
The app is not open source, which means security analysts are unable to check the application for vulnerabilities within the application’s software; This allows for hackers to create backdoors into the app, which would bypass traditional security measures if WhatsApp developers do not develop the application properly.
In 2016, WhatsApp introduced encryption into the application to prevent messages from being read by anyone apart from the person sending and the person receiving them. However, security experts argue that relying on end-to-end encryption is not enough.
Durov argued, “I understand security agencies justify planting backdoors by anti-terror efforts. The problem is such backdoors can also be used by criminals and authoritarian governments. No wonder dictators seem to love WhatsApp. Its lack of security allows them to spy on their own people, so WhatsApp continues being freely available in places like Russia or Iran, where Telegram is banned by the authorities.”
Durov continues by arguing that he started working on Telegram in response to personal pressure from Russian authorities. In 2012, WhatsApp was transferring messages in plain-text, which gave everyone access to WhatsApp texts, Durov explains.
“Every time WhatsApp has to fix a critical vulnerability in their app, a new one seems to appear in its place,” Durov said. “All of their security issues are conveniently suitable for surveillance, and look and work a lot like backdoors.”
Durov believes the messaging app will never be secure unless the application changes how it works. “For WhatsApp to become a privacy-orientated service, it has to risk losing entire markets and clashing with authorities in their home country,” Durov wrote. “They don’t seem to be ready for that.”
Who is Pavel Durov?
Pavel Durov is a Russian entrepreneur who is best known for being the founder of the social networking site VK, and later the Telegram messenger app. He was dismissed as the CEO of VK in 204, and the Durov brothers have traveled the world in “self-imposed exile” as citizens of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
After he obtained Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship through donating $250,000 to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, and he received $300 million in cash within Swiss banks; This allowed him to focus on creating his next company, Telegram, which was initially based in Berlin and now based in London and focuses on an encrypted messaging service.
What is the Telegram Messenger app?
According to its website, “Telegram is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed.”