Tuesday June 18, 2019
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WhatsApp End-to-end Encryption May Weaken on Integration with Facebook

The New York Times reported on Friday that Facebook has planned to integrate chats within WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram

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"WhatsApp Business" was launched last week in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Britain and the US. Pixabay

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption — the hallmark of users’ security — may go for a toss if Facebook integrates the popular mobile messaging platform with not-that-secure Instagram and Messenger.

According to a report in The Wired on Saturday, to universally preserve end-to-end encryption poses a whole additional set of critical challenges for Facebook.

WhatsApp chats are currently end-to-end encrypted by default. Facebook Messenger offers the feature if you turn on “Secret Conversations.”

“Instagram does not currently offer any form of end-to-end encryption for its chats,” the report said.

“The big problem I see is that only WhatsApp has default end-to-end encryption. So if the goal is to allow cross-app traffic, and it’s not required to be encrypted, then what happens? There are a whole range of outcomes here,” Matthew Green, a cryptographer at the Johns Hopkins University, was quoted as saying.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum quit Facebook over difference of opinion with CEO Mark Zuckerberg when it comes to data privacy and encryption.

Koum announced his exit “after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption”.

Brian Acton started WhatsApp with Koum. Facebook acquired the messaging service ago for $19 billion in 2014. Acton quit Facebook in 2017 and Koum left the company last April.

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The New York Times reported on Friday that Facebook has planned to integrate chats within WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

“Facebook is still in the early planning stages of homogenizing its messaging platforms, a move that could increase the ease and number of secured chats online by a staggering order of magnitude,” said The Wired report. (IANS)

Next Story

Instagram Testing a New in-app Account Recovery Process

The new recovery process is aimed at letting users recover an account from within the app itself, rather than having to lean on the security team

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Instagram app logo is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. VOA

To offer more assurance in recovering hacked accounts, Facebook-owned messaging app Instagram is testing a new in-app account recovery process.

To control cases where the hackers alter username and contact data linked to the accounts, Instagram is offering a safeguard which would prevent any username from being claimed for a “period of time” after account changes, whether it is a hack or a voluntary change.

As part of the new test process, for recovery, users are being asked to fill in their personal information such as their original email address or phone number and later send them a six-digit code to the contact information of their choice, Engadget reported on Sunday.

The new method is intended to ensure account recovery even if the hacker alters the username and contact information linked to the account.

With this process, the photo-messaging app also intends to prevent hackers from using email or phone number codes to take over accounts from different devices, the report said.

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With a 1-billion user-base worldwide, the app still does not allow web users to post Stories from the desktop. Pixabay

For now, details on the wider availability of this in-app remains unclear, although the username lockdown has been made available to all Android users now which is being deployed to iOS users as well.

Presently, to recover a hacked account, users have to either wait for a recovery email or fill out a support form, making the process time-consuming.

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The new recovery process is aimed at letting users recover an account from within the app itself, rather than having to lean on the security team.

Instagram’s decision comes two months after its parent company Facebook admitted to have “fixed a security issue” that had been saving passwords of 200-600 million users in plain text and “readable” format since 2012, which were also searchable by over 20,000 of its staff members. (IANS)