Popular social messaging app, WhatsApp has a succession of security issues since its inception, Telegram Boss Pavel Durov says.
The Russian entrepreneur added his voice to the mounting criticism over the Facebook-owned app, following the recent hacking experience that saw millions of its users update the service.
“Looking back, there hasn’t been a single day in WhatsApp’s 10 year journey when this service was secure,” Durov claims.
The privacy of 1.5 billion WhatsApp users was this week compromised after a huge security flaw was exposed, and the Telegram founder warns that this may not be the last or worst incident of its kind.
In a blog post, Durov laid out all the reasons why the latest privacy scandal in WhatsApp didn’t surprise him as such, seeing as it has a consistent history of security issues.
“WhatsApp has a consistent history – from zero encryption at its inception to a succession of security issues strangely suitable for surveillance purposes,” he claims in the post.
Everything on WhatsApp users’ phones – from private videos, photos, and even texts and emails were laid bare, accessible to hackers in what is believed to have been executed by an Israeli group of hackers.
The challenge with WhatsApp though is that it isn’t open source, so even security researchers can’t easily check for any vulnerability in its underlying software. This could allow hackers and governments to create backdoors that would easily bypass any built-in security measures in the app.
In 2016, WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption to “every form of communication”, with the aim of preventing reading of messages by outsiders besides the sender and recipient. However, this alone isn’t enough to assure and protect the users’ security and privacy, as well as that of the app itself.
Even upgrading to the latest version of WhatsApp doesn’t guarantee that a similar hack or worse won’t be exploited in future.
Durov adds that each time WhatsApp gets a critical fix on vulnerability in the app, “a new one seems to come up in its place.”
“All of their security issues are conveniently suitable for surveillance, and look and work a lot like backdoors,” he added, noting that it won’t be secure unless fundamental changes are made to 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,” he wrote, adding that the WhatsApp team doesn’t seem to be ready for such an eventuality.
Elsier is an avid tech writer, who loves mobile apps, games, music, and cars. When she’s not catching up on the latest in tech, she’s binging on reruns of her favorite series.