Amidst the long-awaited launch of their brand new desktop offering, the development team with WhatsApp is taking some rather drastic steps toward increasing security throughout their network. With growing concerns over security, regarding both WhatsApp and the Internet in general, it's never too early to initiate risk management and mitigation in an effort to curb potential threats before they happen while solving current security issues in a timely and efficient manner.
What is WhatsApp
To put it simply, WhatsApp is an online instant messenger that currently boasts a user base of more 700 million users. Recently acquired by Facebook at the staggering cost of $19 billion, WhatsApp uses smartphone capability as well as desktop and laptop computers to connect users from around the world.
As mentioned, security is always an issue when transmitting information across the Internet. However, WhatsApp has several unique security threats, some of which have only recently caught scrutiny from the public eye.
One of the most recent threats involves the use of WhatsApp Plus: a third-party application that, in reality, has absolutely nothing to do with WhatsApp itself. In fact, users must uninstall WhatsApp in order to even use WhatsApp Plus, also known as WhatsApp +. In order to put a damper on the usage of WhatsApp Plus, WhatsApp has started issuing 24-hour user bans to those accounts that have used WhatsApp Plus. When an account is banned, it is accompanied by the following message: "You're temporarily banned from WhatsApp because you may have violated our terms of service."
Because this resulted in a fair amount of public backlash, WhatsApp soon posted a message on their own website, saying: "The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus." Their post went on to say: "Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code that WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to third-parties without your knowledge or authorization."
How to Keep Information Secure on Your End
For starters, users who want to keep their WhatsApp data security should be wary of third-party applications such as WhatsApp Plus. While it's important to keep in mind that no malicious intent has been proven on the part of WhatsApp Plus, this case illustrates just how easy it can be for a hacker to effect a mass data leak or identity theft operation.
WhatsApp users should never visit any unknown websites or install any unknown software on their smartphone or PC, and they should always take care when communicating online, especially when giving out personal details or otherwise sensitive information. Even if you know the person in real life, it's possible that their account has been hacked or compromised in some way.
Finally, WhatsApp is also taking steps on their end in order to bolster the security of their own networks with the roll-out of a brand new encryption protocol featuring full, end-to-end encryption. The new functionality is expected to complement their existing security measures, including cryptographic and anti-snooping initiatives.
Maintaining Data Security Through WhatsApp
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