Tag Archives: WhatsApp

WhatsApp 'Backdoor '

WhatsApp messages: Safety of encryption still under question

WhatsApp message encryption  is still under question.  The fact that messages written between users of this popular service enjoyed it because of its privacy, messages can still be read by prying eyes.

Remember the uproar over the privacy issue in the San Bernadino shooting? IPhones had additional safety features built into the phone to avoid someone seeing incriminating evidence. Yet, the FBI found its way around the First Amendment and everyone’s right to privacy, including the dead terrorists. This blogger still has her phone coded around my family just in case someone gets too nosey.

Once again, the media might be the catalyst for giving people the wrong idea concerning the safety of chatting on WhatsApp. Being able to read messages through a back door led users to Most other chat services that aren’t encrypted or as safe. Sometimes it makes this blogger wonder why the media allowed for such stupid scare tactics to occur?

My biggest concern is whether my gmail and yahoo email accounts were safe. Because the app had been compromised at yahoo for the second time my password is coded, preventing a breach. In times of war, nothing is absolute, not even the right to privacy.  In the case of the San Bernadino shooting, the FBI showed just cause in retrieving the data in the iPhone as evidence of a terrorist attack and maintained the proper warrant.

The concern over WhatsApp encrypted messages has merit. This didn’t sound so dumb to a lot of people. According to Chris Mills January 13 bog post, End-to-end encryption relies on both users having two parts of a secure key, used to encrypt and then decrypt the message. But to make sure that messages are always sent, even when the recipient is offline, Whatsapp appears to have compromised that system. According to The Guardian, “WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.”

Here’s how the WhatsApp feature worked, according to Chris Smith’s January 17 blog post :

  • When a message is sent but not delivered to the recipient (you see a single tick on your sent message), WhatsApp servers will hold onto the message until it can be delivered, regardless of what happens to the receiving account.
  •  If a person — let’s call him Jay — loses a smartphone, buys a new one, or changes SIMs, but wants to keep using the same WhatsApp account, the application will warn all Jay’s contacts that their friend has changed devices, and an in-person security check might be required to verify his identity.

Now, here’s where the backdoor ‘feature’ steps in. The messages sent by all of Jay’s friends via WhatsApp will still arrive — that’s when his friends will see two ticks under their sent messages, marking the fact that the messages have been sent.

*Boelter explains that all the government has to do to spy on a specific friend of Jay’s — let’s call him Silent Bob — is to mimic  Jay’s phone using sophisticated equipment or by accessing WhatsApp’s servers. The government would then prevent the server from sending confirmation ticks to Silent Bob that his messages have been sent to Jay.

Jay, meanwhile, will not receive those messages, as they’re sent to the government’s devices. But Jay might soon realize that something is wrong with his WhatsApp app.

The gist is that Silent Bob will continue to send out messages to his friend, thinking that Jay has not seen the messages. The government would then collect that data.

In Tobias Boelter’s January 17 blog post, he stated that Facebook’s failure to acknowledge this flaw is a major concern because it allowed hackers to use this vulnerability. The collection of data  would’ve been a violation of users First Amendment right to privacy and free speech. Facebook and WhatsApp would have to keep all messages sent to an account that’s activated on a new device and prompt the senders to send them again if they want to do it. Even if it’s a hassle for the user, who sent those messages. In this case, Silent Bob’s messages that are in transit would need confirmation to be sent again to Jay.

Even though this made encrypted messages safe, it isn’t totally safe from hackers or unethical government people. Tobias Boelter showed this.

 

Sources:

Feelings Tobias Boelter’s Blog, January 17, 2017

WhatsApp vulnerability: Encryption backdoor or convenience feature? Chris Smith January 17, 2017

Whatsapp bug allows viewing of encrypted messages Chris Mills January 13, 2017

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Targeted ads using WhatsApp cell numbers breaches Facebook’s promise

Facebook and WhatsApp  users are fuming over the parent company using data collected from phone numbers to target ads. The backlash is far-reaching. Some WhatsApp users have left the chat service over this announcement. Frankly, this blogger didn’t blame them. Unfortunately, this blogger wants updates through her phone on news related items, so Facebook had my cell number. WhatsApp requires users to give their cell number to validate the account. I only chat with one person, even though other friends use that chat service.

I don’t mind the Facebook targeting their ads to me as long as they are beneficial. It’s to their credit they have been so lately. However, this blogger understood users outcry of both system’s determination to make a profit from their targeted ads. This is a breach in their promise not to use collected data from WhatsApp. The social media giant bought the app two years ago. Back then, a $5 price hike concerned its users.

Facebook must be hard up for members to breach its agreement with its users. While it is a great place to gather trending news topics, it wasn’t the only choice. There was a time when I’d get three or four alerts on the same trending news story from different outlets. It is difficult deciding which one to use. The link easiest to use won. That ranked People near the bottom because their stories were removed a lot.

While Facebook remained quiet about this latest announcement, users of these services can stop it. With the encryption added, no one outside of the sender or receiver can read messages. They didn’t share anyone’s posts from WhatsApp on Facebook or send a list of cell numbers to advertisers. On the flip side, sharing one’s number got targeted ads, better friend requests and fight spam. I’ve noticed that unverified accounts on Facebook are removed. Before accepting the TOS agreement on WhatsApp, remove the check mark from the box that reads ‘share my account with Facebook’, then put a check mark in the agree to the TOS box. If it was already checked, go to the account section and remove the check mark from ‘share account info’. This blogger plans to check her account on WhatsApp and Facebook.

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

WhatsApp launches five new features: What you need to know

WhatsApp, the Facebook owned messaging service used by some one billion people around the globe, has launched five new features as part of its latest iOS and Android update.

Here we take a look at what the new features are and how to use them.

  • Explore videos with ‘in-play’ zoom

The ability to zoom in on videos while they are playing means users will be able to explore what they watch in greater detail – especially useful when watching something on a small screen like a phone.

Just pinch your fingers together on the screen while a video is playing to zoom.

  • Enhanced photo sharing

Want to share pictures from other apps installed on your phone? No problem, now you can.

Photos can now be shared from the likes of Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive just by opening the “Photo/Video Library” option while in WhatsApp and selecting “choose from another app…”.

  • Sending and receiving PDFs

The messaging service is now offering users the chance to send and receive PDFs from within their app.

PDFs can be selected from other apps installed on your phone, like iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive.

  • Fixed storage issues

According to WhatsApp the company has “fixed some crashes and an issue that was using a lot of storage space on some iPhones” by reducing the amount of space the app requires to function.

  • Selection of variety of solid colors for chat backgrounds

Read more at itv.com

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Skype Qik App had too many marketing failures

Skype has decided to shut down the Skype Qik app on March 24. As a fan of this program, one shouldn’t feel like the whole thing was shut down. This was thought by me after reading the Facebook post last night. It was misread by me and probably a few others.

The truth was, this app became obsolete, mainly because the program already had video chat services, so it didn’t need the Qik app. There were less than 5 million downloads, according to the Google Play page. The other reason was that this app failed to compete with FB Messenger video chat and other popular programs like SnapChat video chat.

Skype Qik was designed as a “spontaneous” video chat app allowing users record video messages to a group of friends and send them off, or issue quick video reactions to messages they received. The messages had a shelf life of two weeks, after which time they were deleted. Microsoft’s purpose for Skype Qik was so that users would connect via a phone number, not a Skype username.

The reviews from users weren’t very good either, other than the many negative comments, it couldn’t compete with other chat services that offered video chat.

One of the main reasons for my not using Facebook Messenger Video Chat and Yahoo Messenger Video Chat was privacy. Before Facebook allowed users to turn off chat for selected people, anyone and everyone knew who was online. The same thing with Yahoo. Until one had the ability to appear offline to all people, everyone interrupted a chat.

My preference was imo. There was less of a chance that there was an interruption in service due to a shaky connection. WhatsApp had a shaky connection, but video calling was free, like imo and private. Oovoo was shaky also, my friend from Africa was unable to see and hear me when we spoke two years ago. Most of my family used it though. It was probably used better stateside than overseas. The best time to contact my African friend was early in the morning because the connection was better on WhatsApp.

My brother, sister, mother and I tried setting up a video chat over a certified letter my mother had to write through Skype. Because there were more then three people trying to talk and see each other, Skype tried making us use a three way situation instead of two. In other words, unless they worked out this problem Skype video chat was no better.

This would only stay on the market if it worked, but based on all the bad press, poor performance, and other competition, it was shutting down March 24.

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.