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Why Using WhatsApp Is Dangerous – Telegraph

Why Using WhatsApp Is Dangerous – Telegraph

Pavel Durov

A couple of months in the past I wrote a couple of WhatsApp backdoor that allowed hackers to entry all information on any cellphone operating WhatsApp [1]. Facebook, its mother or father firm, claimed on the time that that they had no proof the flaw had ever been utilized by attackers [2]

Last week it turned clear that this backdoor had been exploited to extract non-public communications and photographs of Jeff Bezos – the richest particular person on the planet – who sadly relied on WhatsApp [3]. Since the assault appeared to originate from a overseas authorities, it’s probably that numerous different enterprise and authorities leaders have been focused [4].

In my November publish, I predicted this may occur [5]. The United Nations now recommends its officers take away WhatsApp from their units [6], whereas folks near Donald Trump have been suggested to alter their telephones [7]

Given the gravity of the state of affairs, one would anticipate Facebook/WhatsApp to apologize and pledge to not plant backdoors of their apps going ahead. Instead, they introduced that Apple, not WhatsApp, was guilty. Facebook’s vp claimed that iOS, quite than WhatsApp, had been hacked [8].

If you comply with my weblog, you recognize I’m not precisely an Apple fanboy [9]. iOS units have a great deal of privacy-related points. But this was not one in all them – for 2 causes:

1) WhatsApp’s “corrupt video” vulnerability was current not solely on iOS, but in addition on Android and even Windows Phone units. Meaning, on all cell units with WhatsApp put in.

2) This safety fault was not current in different messaging apps on iOS. Had Jeff Bezos relied on Telegram as a substitute of WhatsApp, he would not have been blackmailed by individuals who compromised his communications [10].

Consequently, the difficulty was not iOS-specific, however WhatsApp particular.

In their advertising, WhatsApp makes use of the phrases “end-to-end encryption” as some magic incantation that alone is meant to mechanically make all communications safe [11]. However, this know-how is just not a silver bullet that may assure you absolute privateness by itself.

Telegram rolled out end-to-end encryption for mass communication years earlier than WhatsApp adopted go well with, and we’ve been conscious not solely of the strengths, but in addition the constraints of this know-how. Other elements of a messaging app can render end-to-end encryption ineffective. Below are three examples of what can go mistaken.

First, there are backups. Users don’t wish to lose their chats once they change units, so that they again up the chats in providers like iCloud – usually with out realizing their backups should not encrypted. The proven fact that Apple was pressured by the FBI to desert encryption plans for iCloud is telling [12]. That’s one of many explanation why Telegram by no means depends on third-party cloud backups, and Secret Chats are by no means backed up anyplace. 

Second, there are backdoors. Enforcement companies should not too pleased with encryption, forcing app builders to secretly plant vulnerabilities of their apps. I do know that as a result of we’ve been approached by a few of them – and refused to cooperate. As a outcome, Telegram is banned in some international locations the place WhatsApp has no points with authorities, most suspiciously in Russia and Iran [13]

Backdoors are often camouflaged as “accidental” safety flaws. In the final 12 months alone, 12 such flaws have been present in WhatsApp. Seven of them have been vital – just like the one which obtained Jeff Bezos [14]. Some may inform you WhatsApp continues to be “very secure” regardless of having 7 backdoors uncovered within the final 12 months, however that’s simply statistically inconceivable. Telegram, an utility utilized by a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of individuals together with heads of states and huge firms, has had no problems with that severity within the final 6 years. 

Third, there are flaws in encryption implementation. How can anyone make certain that the encryption WhatsApp claims to make use of is the one really applied of their apps? Their supply code is hidden and the apps’ binaries are obfuscated, making them laborious to research. On the opposite, Telegram apps have been open-source and its encryption absolutely documented since 2013. Telegram helps verifiable builds for each iOS and Android – that means anybody can ensure that the supply code on GitHub and the Telegram app you obtain are the identical factor [15]. No different messaging app is doing that for each cell working programs, and one may simply begin questioning why.

Don’t let your self be fooled by the tech equal of circus magicians who’d wish to focus your consideration on one remoted side all whereas performing their methods elsewhere. They need you to consider end-to-end encryption as the one factor you need to have a look at for privateness. The actuality is rather more difficult. 

Some may say that, as a founding father of a rival app, I could also be biased when criticizing WhatsApp. Of course I’m. Of course I contemplate Telegram Secret Chats to be considerably safer than any competing technique of communication – why else would I be growing and utilizing Telegram? 

However, the statements on this publish are primarily based on info, not private desire. And, similar to the code of the Telegram apps, these info are verifiable and additional supported by the third-party sources under. When it involves safety, no one ought to take anyone’s phrase without any consideration. 


[1] Techspot: Hackers can use a WhatsApp flaw in the way in which it handles video to take management of your cellphoneNovember 19, 2019

[2] ZDNet: Attackers utilizing WhatsApp MP4 video information vulnerability can remotely execute codeNovember 18, 2019

[3] Popular Mechanics: How Jeff Bezos Got Hacked on WhatsApp—and How It Could Happen to You January 26, 2020

[4] Forbes: If Jeff Bezos’ iPhone Can Be Hacked Over WhatsApp, So Can YoursJanuary 22, 2020

[5] Pavel Durov: A New Backdoor Was Quietly Found In WhatsAppNovember 20, 2019 

[6] Reuters: U.N. says officers barred from utilizing WhatsApp since June 2019 over safetyJanuary 23, 2020

[7] CNN: UN professional recommends Kushner change his cellphone after suspected Saudi hackJanuary 23, 2020

[8] Gizmodo: Facebook Gives Unintelligible Response to Jeff Bezos Hack, Deciding to Blame iOSJanuary 26, 2020 

[9] Pavel Durov: iCloud Is Now Officially a Surveillance ToolJanuary 21, 2020

[10] Jeff Bezos: No thanks, Mr. PeckerFebruary 7, 2020

[11] BBC Radio four: We’re as certain as you may be that the know-how of end-to-end encryption can’t be hacked into: Facebook’s Nick CleggJanuary 24, 2020 

[12] Reuters: Apple dropped plan for encrypting backups after FBI complainedJanuary 21, 2020

[13] (a) The Verge: Russia orders rapid block of Telegram messaging appApril 13, 2018

(b) New York Times: Russian Court Bans Telegram App After 18 Minute HearingApril 13, 2018

[14] Business Insider: WhatsApp disclosed 12 safety flaws final 12 months, together with 7 categorized as ‘vital,’ after Jeff Bezos cellphone was reportedly hackedJanuary 28, 2020

[15] Telegram: Verifiable Builds, New Theme Editor, Send When Online and So Much MoreDecember 31, 2019

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