One of the many doubts people have about WhatsApp is its security for video calls. Digital security is a highly sensitive affair. As a messaging app, a lot of digital activities can be carried out on WhatsApp. Some of these include texting, video-calling, advertising and eCommerce and so on. We trust WhatsApp to keep private, the security of these data from third parties.
However, we must be aware that WhatsApp is not invulnerable as you’d like to imagine. In this article, we will address the privacy issues of one of the widely used messaging app. You will also find out why you should be more concerned about sharing sensitive data through the platform.
Can my WhatsApp Video Call be Spied on?
WhatsApp video calls, just like the messages are encrypted. Video calls are initiated only after WhatsApp internally shares an encoded message between the call participants. WhatsApp’s video call feature is also supported by end-to-end encryption. However, while messages and video calls may be end-to-end encrypted, the company can still see the metadata.
Is WhatsApp end-to-end encryption good enough?
The introduction of this security feature in 2016, lightened the face of many users. People also became more confident in the safety of their messages and data on the platform. End-to-end encryption ensures that no one knows the content of the conversation, including WhatsApp itself. However, WhatsApp also has other security flaws which you should be are of.
For instance, the recipient of a WhatsApp message can flag it. Once this happens, the message is then copied on the recipient’s device and forwarded as a separate message to Facebook. These WhatsApp-Facebook dynamics is what many users have frowned at.
Messages are typically flagged, after which they are reviewed. This is the same procedure for addressing spam, claims of fraud, child porn and so on, on Facebook. Hence, the security of endpoints depends on the endpoints themselves. In this case, this happens to be between WhatsApp and its users. Besides this, reports of hackers passing off malicious software as WhatsApp desktop app has been on the rise. In situations where you download this kind of app, the installation can distribute malware or compromise your computer altogether. Moreover, WhatsApp huge user base makes it a good target for hackers.
Other privacy flaws you should know about as a user include:
- Unencrypted metadata: Although WhatsApp end-to-end encryption can be debased by the devices of the sender or receiver, considerable metadata is visible to Facebook. Facebook also has the right to share them with law enforcement agencies. A case like this was discovered by Pro Publica when the Department of Justice was requesting WhatsApp’s metadata in 2017.
Known as pen-register orders, these requests are confidential to public notice. The courts seal both the number of orders and the number of requests granted. Since these pen orders and their results are sealed, it is impossible to know which metadata Facebook has leaked.
Facebook calls this data Prospective Message Pairs (PMPs). Unable to ascertain the content of these PMPs, you can know for sure it’s very important to law enforcement. In 2018, a former Treasury Department official was convicted of leaking banking reports to Buzzfeed. These confidential reports were leaked via WhatsApp.
It was estimated that about 70 messages were exchanged with a BuzzFeed reporter. This turned out to erode WhatsApp’s reputation. It also raised concerns and still does about the privacy situation of the messaging app.
- Intention to access your contacts: WhatsApp is very much interested in accessing your contact details, including that of those who don’t use the platform. According to their terms of service, you are mandated to reveal these numbers, and regularly. You must confirm you are authorized to do so before WhatsApp offers you its services.
The setup is malicious. You can deny them access but WhatsApp won’t show you the names of your message threads. You will also be prevented from making calls as well as starting group messages. If you allow access to your contacts, WhatsApp can read everyone’s information like your therapist’s and fiancee.
It is important to note that this hasn’t been settled as legal under the EU’s Data Protection Regulation. This forbids you to share a user’s data without consent. Say you have a contact of a non-WhatsApp user, their detail is shared with WhatsApp without their consent.
- Not open-source: WhatsApp prefers to keep hidden, its program structure. Software is safest when its code is made public. This is exactly what it means to be open source. This is important for an expert private evaluation. It could serve to spot where potential leaks and hacks could come from.
This important feature not supported on WhatsApp has made the messaging app even more questionable. Locking people off the platform’s design hasn’t helped in privacy-based recommendations.
So, with the security and privacy flaws pointed out above, is WhatsApp video call safe? WhatsApp is sometimes an annoying platform. The company’s implementation of end-to-end encryption is no doubt, an upside. However, there are many WhatsApp security concerns.
One primary issue is that being under Facebook, it is subjected to the same privacy dangers of the parent company. You should also be aware that even though your video call is encrypted, it is not completely safe from a hack. Also, WhatsApp can hand out such data to authorities that demand them.