5 security threats WhatsApp users need to know

WhatsApp is a platform owned by Facebook which is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. It is estimated that more than a billion people use the app, with more than 65 billion messages per day.

It’s no surprise that security concerns, malware threats, and spam for WhatsApp have begun to emerge. Whatsapp web will introduce you to 5 security threats that every whatsapp user needs to know

1. WhatsApp Web Malware – A Dangerous Security Threat

The first security threat that Whatsapp users need to know about is malware. The number of Whatsapp users today is increasing, making this application a lucrative prey for cyber criminals. Many of these hackers focus on WhatsApp Web. For years, WhatsApp allowed you to open a website or download a desktop app, scan the code with the app on your phone, and use WhatsApp on your computer.

The mobile app store (apps on the iOS App Store and Android Google Play) is safer than other unknown apps on the Internet. When you search for WhatsApp on these app stores, you will immediately know which app is the official app. But not the whole Internet is like that.

Cybercriminals, hackers and scammers all try to take advantage of this. There have been cases of attackers spreading malware in the form of WhatsApp desktop applications. If, unfortunately, you mistakenly download such a malicious WhatsApp application, the installation of which may spread malware or damage your computer system.

In some cases, hackers can install spyware from the WhatsApp vulnerability.

Other bad guys have tried a new approach, creating phishing sites to trick users into providing personal information. Some of these sites pretend to be WhatsApp Web sites, asking you to enter your phone number to connect to the service. However, they actually use that phone number to send spam or contact other leaked or hacked data on the Internet.

The best way to stay safe is to only use apps and services from official sources. WhatsApp provides a web application for you to use on any computer, called WhatsApp Web. There are also official apps for Android, iPhone, macOS and Windows devices. 

WhatsApp Web Malware
WhatsApp Web Malware

2. Backups are not encrypted

Unencrypted backups are also a security threat to WhatsApp users. The messages you send on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted. This means that only your device and the recipient can decrypt them. This feature prevents your messages from being intercepted in transit, even by Facebook itself. However, this feature does not secure messages, as they are decrypted on your device.

WhatsApp allows you to backup your messages on Android and iOS. This is an essential feature as it allows to recover accidentally deleted WhatsApp messages. There is a local backup on the device, in addition to a cloud-based backup. On Android, you can back up your WhatsApp data to Google Drive. If you’re using an iPhone, the destination for the backup is iCloud. These backups contain decrypted messages from your device.

Backup files stored on iCloud or Google Drive are not encrypted. Since this file contains decrypted versions of all of your messages, they are theoretically vulnerable to attack and weaken WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption.

Since there’s no choice about the backup location, you’re forced to trust the cloud storage providers to keep your data secure. While there have been no large-scale hacks affecting iCloud or Google Drive so far, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. There are different ways an attacker can gain access to your cloud storage account.

If you choose to back up your WhatsApp data to the cloud, that will somewhat weaken the service’s end-to-end encryption. 

security threat
The dangerous security threat with users

3. Share data with Facebook

A very common security threat that users of social applications are aware of is data sharing. Facebook has been the focus of much criticism in recent years. One of those criticisms is about Facebook’s actions to monopolize the market and fight against competition rules. So when Facebook decided that it wanted to add WhatsApp to the “big Facebook family”, the European Union (EU) only approved the deal, after Facebook assured them that both the companies Facebook and WhatsApp, together with their data, kept separate.

But before long, Facebook broke its promise. In 2016, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and allowed sharing of data from WhatsApp to Facebook. While the full extent of this data sharing is not disclosed, information such as your phone number and data about your app usage, such as when you last used WhatsApp, are both transferred to Facebook.

WhatsApp also states that none of your information is publicly visible on Facebook, which implies that it will instead be hidden in Facebook’s inaccessible profile. Due to the public backlash to this announcement, WhatsApp allows users to opt out of data sharing. However, over the years, WhatsApp has quietly removed this option.

According to the plan, in the future Facebook creates a unified infrastructure for all its messaging platforms. That is, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will combine. So, although each service will continue to function as a standalone application, all messages will be sent on the same network. 

facebook and whatsapp
Facebook and whatsapp share data with each other

4. Scams and fake news

The big threat for Whatsapp users is scams and fake news. In recent years, social media companies have been criticized for allowing fake news and misinformation to spread on their platforms. WhatsApp has also suffered a similar situation.

An example of this security threat can be found in Brazil. WhatsApp was the main source of fake news during the 2018 election. Because this type of misinformation spreads so easily, business people in Brazil have set up companies, creating anti-fals information. back the candidates via WhatsApp. Bad guys can do this because the phone number matches your username on WhatsApp, and they have bought a list of phone numbers to target.

Digital misinformation is a difficult problem to deal with, but what is frustrating many is WhatsApp’s indifferent attitude towards the issue.

However, after that, the company made a few changes. WhatsApp puts a limit on forwarding, you can only forward to 5 groups, instead of the previous limit of up to 250 groups. WhatsApp has also removed the toggle for forwarding in some areas. 

fake news
Fake news on Whatsapp

5. WhatsApp Status

The final security threat is the Whatsapp status feature. WhatsApp’s status feature is a brief line of text. Understandably this is the only way for you to let people know what you’re doing at the time. This feature has turned into WhatsApp Status, a clone of the popular Instagram Stories feature.

Instagram is a platform designed to be public, although you can make your profile private if you want. WhatsApp, on the other hand, is a more intimate service, used to communicate with friends and family. So you can assume that sharing a status on WhatsApp is also private.

However, the truth is not as it appears to be. Anyone in your WhatsApp contacts can see your status. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to control who you can share your status with.

Navigate to Settings > Account > Privacy > Status and you’ll be presented with three security options for status updates:

  • My contacts
  • My contacts except…
  • Only share with…

However, WhatsApp does not make it clear whether the contacts you have blocked can see your status. Thankfully, the company has done the right thing so that blocked contacts can’t see your status, regardless of your privacy settings. As with Instagram Stories, any videos and photos added to the status disappear after 24 hours.

whatsapp status
Whatsapp Status

Above are 5 security threats for WhatsApp users to know, compiled by WhatsApp Web. Hopefully with the information shared above you will know how to use whatsapp most effectively. 

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