Whatsapp Messanger Downloads (Green = highest penetration rates)
Whatsapp messanger has crossed 7 billion inbound messages a day just this year, making the app one of the most popular apps in the world. All this use has drawn attention to security issues that crop up on nearly a monthly basis.
Most recently, Investigations by Canada and the Netherlands have shown that the app is uploading contact lists from users’ phones to Whatsapp servers and failing to delete them even after users had deleted the service.
Whatsapp issues began with WhatsApp Sniffer on the Google Play store (removed) that allowed users to intercept WhatsApp messages directly and Whatsappstatus.net (removed) which allowed users to change the status message of… anyone. Passcodes and authentication were generated from information that was often written on the phone itself (in the case of android, it is on a sticker on the inside of the phone by the battery) and can be obtained extremely easily. If you are using the device on a public WiFi, the information broadcasted can be used to take over your WhatsApp account. If you are using the app on your iPhone, the hackers can grab your phone number.
Other issues include:
10/9/12 Update: Whatsapp “encryption” hides your data, but does not protect it. A measure defended as “commercial reasonable effort”.
11/30/12 Update: A hack out of Heise Security generates users’ passwords from the phone number and and the phone’s serial number.
12/11/12 Update: Cat and mouse game of Whatsapp security continues, with updates that still don’t close the gap.
01/23/12 Update: Whatsapp partially solves security issues investigated by the Hague.
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