‘Almost everything connected to the internet is at risk’ – Reports reveal after WhatsApp came under attack

News of the vulnerability in WhatsApp spread like fire around and outside the digital world. However, experts claim that it is not only WhatsApp – but most messaging platforms have obscure security vulnerabilities.

In fact, almost everything connected to the internet is at risk!

The vulnerability in WhatsApp was initially reported by the Financial Times. According to the news, a security weakness in the world’s most popular messaging platform allowed an Israel-based company to install malware on both – iPhone and Android devices. If implemented, the security flaw could have been used to tap calls that are made with the app.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp addressed the situation by issuing a patch and encouraging users to update their application in order to remain safe.

However, this made many users wonder regarding the other vulnerabilities that will always be a part of the mobile application.

Tom Uren, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Center agreed that it is likely that other social networking apps will have similar security issues – especially those that are used for communication purposes.

Ori Sasson, founder of the cyber-intelligence firm S2T claims that this is often a result of updates. App developers frequently issue updates to fix existing vulnerabilities but sometimes they can insert new ones as well during the process – without being aware.

What about end-to-end encryption?

Today, we usually see messaging platforms like WhatsApp leverage end-to-end encryption. However, Ori Sasson clarifies that this technology only reduces the risk of eavesdropping messages and calls but does not help when it comes to attacks on the technological front.

In the case of WhatsApp, the attack was related to the ‘secure application development’ and not focused on the user’s privacy and security.

Is security an afterthought for app developers?

Experts agree that it may not be realistic to expect a group of developers to predict every potential vulnerability in an app but they do suggest making it a priority. In fact, cybersecurity experts advise app developers to conduct ‘vulnerability assessments’ to combat security issues. Additionally, hiring security researchers with expertise in finding defects could also be helpful.

When it comes to WhatsApp, the experts state that enhanced research and effort is required to prevent substantial harm to its growing user base.

Is WhatsApp a good target?

Sasson explains that attackers usually put the effort in finding vulnerabilities in apps that are widely used. Since WhatsApp has a large user base and the fact that attackers were able to identify a weakness, they found it as a good target.

Besides, WhatsApp, many popular messaging apps have been targeted, despite claiming to be encrypted. In fact, Sasson says that apps that are alleged to be more secure have a higher chance of being targeted since they are used by people that are of interest to the intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, apps with fewer users are likely to have more security weakness because they are less tested. However, cybercriminals are often not interested in them due to the low user base.

So to remain safe from cyber-attacks, should we migrate to apps that are less popular? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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