WhatsApp have recently boasted of providing end-to-end encryption for all its features. That is, every message you send, whether its text, photo, voice, group or one-on-one, is kept secure during transmission until it reaches its recipient.
An organization committed to advance secure communication technology worked with WhatsApp to implement an encryption system that offers full coverage. With the help of Open Whisper Systems, WhatsApp messages have become secure, and users will see corresponding notices in their conversation screens.
Following the intense encryption talks between Apple and the FBI, WhatsApp defends its security implementation. “While we recognize the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers and rogue states.”
But what if the risk comes from an entity that is expected to provide security?
In a recent report, antivirus pioneer John McAfee claimed that he discovered a major security flaw in Android, particularly in Google’s mobile platform, which enabled him to read encrypted WhatsApp messages. He didn’t divulge any details about how he managed to breakthrough security, but he supposedly gave enough details to Cybersecurity Ventures as proof of his claim. If what he’s saying is true, then WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is practically useless.
Forensics investigators revealed that there could be spyware vulnerabilities and keyboard recording involved, which could easily target everyday Android phone. But like any news that sounds too good to be true, McAfee’s claims turned out to be a hoax. Gizmodo’s sources spilled the beans on him, saying that he planned to send reporters with phones that have been infected with a keylogger malware in a bid to convince them that he and his team were able to crack WhatsApp.
Although McAfee maintains his story, all WhatsApp users can now breathe a sigh of relief. The fact that it was nothing more than a hoax is reason enough to be complacent. And until Google spreads the news or confirms McAfee’s claims, end-to-end encryption remains as reliable as ever.
With this out of the way, you should tinker with the hidden features of WhatsApp instead, which won’t be so hidden anymore. These include text formatting that lets you set text in bold, italics and strikethrough. There is also a feature that allows you to put group chats in silent mode, and send a message to multiple contacts.
With the growing popularity of WhatsApp, it’s no surprise that it can be a magnet for attacks of any kind, including false claims.