The group messenger app WhatsApp is an easy target for hackers. Read more to find out what is at stake.
Since the messaging platform, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, its growth has been unstoppable. The app now boasts over a billion users each month who send over 30 billion messages per day.
WhatsApp has strengthened their security over recent years by adding two-step verification, and automatic end-to-end encryption. Despite this, there are still some security threats you need to know about.
With over a billion users, it’s almost certain that malicious cybercriminals would look to exploit the popular messaging app. WhatsApp announced the launch of a web interface and desktop application in January 2015. Unsurprisingly, hackers were quick to pounce with fake WhatsApp websites and applications that stole data and distributed malware.
Some attackers created malicious software downloads that would masquerade as WhatsApp Desktop applications. Once installed they could install and distribute malware or otherwise compromise your computer. Others turned to creating websites pretending to offer access to WhatsApp Web. They ask for your phone number in order to “connect you to the service” but in reality use it to bombard your WhatsApp with spam messages.
Although WhatsApp does offer a client for both Windows and Mac, the safest option is to go directly to the source at http://web.whatsapp.com.
The messages you send via WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted meaning that only your device has the ability to decode them. This prevents your messages being intercepted during transmission but says nothing of their safety while on your device. On both iOS and Android, it is possible to create a backup of your messages to either iCloud or Google Drive. The backups that WhatsApp create contain the decrypted messages on your device.
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