There's no 'backdoor' in WhatsApp

WhatsApp Denies Backdoor Claim

The backdoor takes advantage of the fact that WhatsApp's implementation of end-to-end encryption makes it possible to resend encrypted messages using different security keys, allowing for third parties to read them.

The Facebook-owned company first announced plans to connect its userbase of more than one billion with businesses last August, TechCrunch reports.

While built using Signal protocol encryption developed by Open Whisper Systems, WhatsApp has found an ability to force new encryption keys for offline users that results in the sender's messages being re-encrypted, and any other messages not marked as delivered.

'Last year, we gave all our users a better level of security by making every message, photo, video, file and call end-to-end encrypted by default.

Boelter has said that unlike the Signal protocol that will fail to send a message to a recipient if their security key changes while offline, WhatsApp has implemented it in such a way that it will automatically send an undelivered message with a new key and no warning.

When a person sends out a WhatsApp message it's encrypted with a security key. But this key is sent through the WhatsApp servers so she cannot know for sure that it is actually Bob's key. At WhatsApp, we've always believed that people's conversations should be secure and private.

Security experts had been divided on the issue, with Kevin Bocek, from security firm Venafi, calling the discovery a "serious vulnerability" and "alarming", while Lee Munson from Comparitech.com said the flaw had raised serious questions over user privacy.

All that said, it is theoretically possible to build a backdoor in the app, because the man-in-the-middle nature of WhatsApp means that it could, if it so desired, include a special extra encryption key that effectively added a third party, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to your conversation. As all eyes were glued on Apple's fight with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, WhatsApp took a huge step toward protecting its users' privacy by moving to encrypt all messages and calls being sent between its apps. Most likely, that change would be due to a user changing phones or reinstalling the app.

WhatsApp said Friday that the retransmission policy was a "design decision" to prevent messages from being lost in transit and described related privacy concerns as overblown. Providing that the phones aren't connected to the internet and that the sender has not switched on security notifications.

WhatsApp will notify your contacts of this when you send them a message, if they've got the app's security notifications on.

In addition to contacting Facebook, Boelter detailed his findings on the vulnerability in a blog post. This issue casts doubt on how much users can trust WhatsApp and Facebook, especially after the companies went against their initial promise not to share user data.

"While a lot of the focus of this latest revelation will be on the personal implications for billions of WhatsApp users, businesses should also be extremely concerned". A WhatsApp spokesperson told us today that the description of the vulnerability as a backdoor is "false".

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