Mar 20, 2019 | Updated: 04:41 PM EST

UK Authorities Ask For Whatsapp Backdoor On Its Encryption, Privacy Advocates Says No

Apr 03, 2017 11:48 PM EDT

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In March, the popular messaging app WhatsApp, as well as Telegram were reportedly vulnerable to hackers although both apps promised ultimate security protection to their users. Both companies have stated that the problems have been solved by releasing the security patch to their respective apps. Just a week ago, the unfortunate event that in London where 4 people were murdered has brought another attention to these apps particularly WhatsApp - and this time involving a request from law enforcers.

Terrorist Khalid Masood, a British man who was responsible for the tragedy is believed to have used WhatsApp two minutes before the attack. Because of this, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd suggested that security services should have the access to encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp so that terrorists will have no way to hide. However, privacy advocates have vehemently opposed the idea.

More than a billion people using WhatsApp for digital communication, and the app - which has been acquired by Facebook, ensures that the users' conversation will remain private and secure through its end-to-end encryption. This security method helps to protect its users from hackers, cybercriminals or any other parties that might want to steal the info inside the conversation. This also means that even if WhatsApp wanted to expose what Masood (a WhatsApp user) had been sharing conversation through the app, it basically can't.

According to the privacy advocates, creating a backdoor for legal authorities would also mean that others who are highly capable of hacking would be able to gain access to users' private conversations - causing severe damage to security. Same topics were discussed back in 2015 where the U.S government requested Apple to cooperate and decrypt iPhones for authorities to help the criminal investigations.

Once a security loophole is created, the security will eventually be breached, even if it's meant only for authorities and intelligence agencies. Hackers and other parties could exploit the same loophole to gain access and everything could be compromised, explained the privacy advocates. Apart from protecting private conversations, encryption also helps users to handle banking and online shopping safely. Compromising any encryption could potentially cause more negative consequences than just a few messages exchanged by Masood. 

 

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