How secure messaging apps really are?

Real- time messaging has occupied a space in our lives, like there never was a world without it. Almost all smartphones today have at least one messaging app installed on it, Whatsapp being the most popular one. Developers claim that the apps are secure and use end to end encryption security, which means, only communicators can view messages sent across devices. 

Most of us would like to believe that the data we share through apps such as Snapchat, Skype, messengers, Instagram is safe.   

E2EE or end to end encryption ensures that data is safe in transit or remain undelivered when the app is reinstalled or when devices/SIM are being changed. This guarantee only applies if this new security protocol has been applied correctly. The protocol is impenetrable only if security keys are exchanged between two users in a chat. If it’s not been applied in an intended way, it creates this loophole for hackers.

This security patch was introduced in 2017 when a bug was found on the web version of this Whatsapp. Things appeared to have been fixed, but another bug was uncovered by an Israeli based cybersecurity firm, CheckPoint research. The bug enables hackers to get access to private messages, even assume your ID and use it to spread information.

Now Facebook might own the company and is aware of this gap but will not resolve it.  The argument is that it will affect the core areas of app’s design. To make the app more user friendly, there’s a compromise on security levels. The research firm even pointed out how a hacker could intercept, even change messages, the identity of senders. They could even disguise private messages as public ones, with responses visible for all to see.

The question is if it’s so easy to manipulate the world’s most popular messaging app, are any of them really safe to use? Complex security measures, best understood by software experts and not by the users themselves, make us question data security in messaging apps.

Leave a Reply