Is WhatsApp as secure as it claims to be?

Experts doubt if WhatsApp is really secure and the company has responded to the same.

By Abhinaya Prabhu

    WhatsApp owned by Facebook is a popular instant messaging platform across the world. In India, the service has over 200 million active users. With such a massive user base, it looks like WhatsApp might not be as secure as it is claimed to be, suggests the experts. The experts have expressed their doubts about some provisions of the user agreement of the platform.

    Is WhatsApp as secure as it claims to be?

    According to a PTI report, Vivek Wadhwa, an American technology entrepreneur and academic stated that one-to-one communication between users is encrypted but the same may not be as secure as it is claimed by WhatsApp. He claims that the metadata and information about the calls could be mined by the company.

    Recently, WhatsApp admitted that it is sharing identity and device information with Facebook letting it do the snooping on users. He stated that the group chat feature lets any group member to mine data such as Cambridge Analytica. The worse thing is that they can even get access to the mobile numbers.

    Also read: Did you know that your WhatsApp chat activity can be tracked?

    Wadhwa stated that the WhatsApp group chat feature can subject users to a greater threat than their data on Facebook as the former exposes their mobile number. Though the users of WhatsApp are convinced with the Privacy and Security assured by the platform, there are major flaws in the design of the chat features, he states.

    The public links lets anyone join WhatsApp groups and any member in a group can record the conversations from the time they join the group. Though their phone number or name is notified to the existing members as soon as they are added to the group, there is very little chance for them to know the whereabouts of the new member. What's more dangerous is that they know the phone numbers of all those who are making comments in the group.

    He states that WhatsApp is having two faces. On one side, it shares sensitive information with Facebook, and on the other side, it claims that it cannot decrypt conversations. WhatsApp is free for the users but it has to spend for its employees, IPRs production, plants, and more. Having said that, Ravi Batra, an attorney based in New York states that the company makes money by harvesting user data and using the same in conjunction with others such as Facebook. After all, why would someone provide free services?

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    To these claims, WhatsApp has responded stating that it collects very little information from users. A spokesperson has stated that contrary to the media reports, they are not keeping track of the messages and conversations. "The privacy and security of our users is incredibly important to WhatsApp," responded the spokesperson.

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