Monday September 23, 2019
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Telegram Rubbishes WhatsApp’s End-to-end Encryption

Last year, the founders of WhatsApp left the company due to concerns over users’ privacy

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Data Recovery, encryption
The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer's screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018. A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them. VOA

As the world left shocked at the news of a bug in WhatsApp’s audio call feature that allowed hackers to install spyware onto Android and iOS phones just by calling the target, its rival Telegram has warned that WhatsApp will continue to be open to surveillance.

Launching a scathing attack on the Facebook-owned messaging app that has over 1.5 billion users, Pavel Durov, the Russian founder of Telegram, said that every time WhatsApp has to fix a critical vulnerability in their app, a new one seems to appear in its place.

“All of their security issues are conveniently suitable for surveillance, and look and work a lot like backdoors,” Durov wrote in a lengthy post late Wednesday.

The spyware on WhatsApp was reportedly developed by the Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group. According to experts, the victims of the latest WhatsApp spyware attack may have lost important personal information including location data and email content.

“In almost six years of its existence, Telegram didn’t have any major data leak or security flaw of the kind WhatsApp demonstrates every few months,” said Durov.

Unlike Telegram, WhatsApp is not open source, so there’s no way for a security researcher to easily check whether there are backdoors in its code.

“Not only WhatsApp doesn’t publish its code, they do the exact opposite: WhatsApp deliberately obfuscates their apps’ binaries to make sure no one is able to study them thoroughly,” Durov pointed out.

whatsapp business app
FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

Telegram has crossed 200 million monthly active users globally.

WhatsApps’ “lack of security allows them to spy on their own people, so WhatsApp continues being freely available in places like Russia or Iran, where Telegram is banned by the authorities,” said Telegram founder who created the platform to offer securely encrypted communications.

Three years ago, WhatsApp announced they implemented end-to-end encryption so “no third party can access messages”.

It coincided with an aggressive push for all of its users to back up their chats in the cloud.

“When making this push, WhatsApp didn’t tell its users that when backed up, messages are no longer protected by end-to-end encryption and can be accessed by hackers and law enforcement. Brilliant marketing, and some naive people serving their time in jail as a result,” Durov said.

WhatsApp has a consistent history – from zero encryption at its inception to a succession of security issues strangely suitable for surveillance purposes.

“Looking back, there hasn’t been a single day in WhatsApp’s 10 year journey when this service was secure. That’s why I don’t think that just updating WhatsApp’s mobile app will make it secure for anyone,” Durov added.

Whatsapp and Telegram
The messaging app Telegram is displayed on a smartphone, July 15, 2017. VOA

WhatsApp has not yet shared much details on the nature of the spyware attack and its implications, but it said it had provided information to the US law enforcement to help them conduct an investigation.

Last year, the founders of WhatsApp left the company due to concerns over users’ privacy.

“They are definitely tied by either gag orders or NDAs, so are unable discuss backdoors publicly without risking to lose their fortunes and freedom. They were able to admit, however, that “they sold their users’ privacy,” he added.

“I feel we let humanity down in this whole WhatsApp spyware story. A lot of people can’t stop using WhatsApp, because their friends and family are still on it.

“The majority of Internet users are still held hostage by the Facebook/WhatsApp/Instagram empire. Many of those who use Telegram are also on WhatsApp, meaning their phones are still vulnerable,” Durov mentioned.

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More recently, he said, “we are witnessing the attempt by Facebook to borrow Telegram’s entire philosophy, with Zuckerberg suddenly declaring the importance of privacy and speed, practically citing Telegram’s app description word for word in his F8 conference speech”.

“We at Telegram have to acknowledge our responsibility in forming the future. It’s either us or the Facebook monopoly. It’s either freedom and privacy or greed and hypocrisy,” he added, stressing that an era of freedom and privacy will begin soon. (IANS)

Next Story

WhatsApp Rolls Out Feature To Share Stories On Facebook

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp has begun rolling out a feature for Android users to let them share their status stories directly on Facebook Story

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facebook, WhatsApp, stories, feature
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp has begun rolling out a feature for Android users to let them share their status stories directly on Facebook Story and other apps.

Just like Instagram, WhatsApp’s status Stories let users post images, text and videos on your profile that disappear after 24 hours.

WhatsApp hasn’t made an official announcement yet but several users reported this on Twitter.

“So WhatsApp has a new feature, you can share your story on WhatsApp to Facebook. For me, this is quite interesting, a centralized mode of communicating to various platforms,” posted one user.

“The New #WhatsApp update allows you to share your statuses on to your #FacebookStory as well,” wrote another.

To use this feature, tap on share button which will show you the apps you can share your WhatsApp status with.

facebook, WhatsApp, stories, feature
An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Tapping on “Share to Facebook Story” will let you share WhatsApp Status to Facebook Story.

Currently, there was no option to have WhatsApp status automatically shared to another service and the instant messaging app intends that the feature should be an active decision on the part of the user.

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The roll out appears to be part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to create a unified app combining WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram to let over 2.6 billion users communicate with each other cross-apps by 2020.

The move could let the social networking giant tout higher user engagement to advertisers, thus, ramping up its advertising division at a time when growth has slowed down. (IANS)