WhatsApp is the most popular instant message platform in the world but this does make the United Nations (UN) to consider it as a secure communications platform. This was again confirmed since the Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos’ handset was hacked.
Saudi Arabia has been accused by UN experts for hacking into the billionaire’s smartphone. In an official statement on Thursday, a spokesperson said, “The UN does not consider WhatsApp a secure mechanism”.
The official further went to assume the possible involvement of the Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the cyberattack on Bezos back in 2018. Based on forensic evidence provided by Washington-based FTI Consulting, the officials called for a joint investigation by the US and other law enforcement agencies. The report claims Bezos’ iPhone was hacked with a malicious video file sent from one of the crown prince’s WhatsApp accounts.
While responding to Reuters’ question on whether the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had communicated with the Saudi Crown Prince or other heads of states over WhatsApp, Farhan Haq, a UN spokesperson responded by saying;
“Every senior UN official has been instructed to refrain from using WhatsApp for official communication, since it is not a secure medium. So, I do not think the Secretary-General uses it”.
Haq further stated that the official instruction not to use WhatsApp was given back in June 2019.
Upon questioning WhatsApp officials, Carl Woog, WhatsApp’s Director of Communications revealed that the company offers industry-leading security to its 1.5 billion strong user-base.
“Every private message is secured via end-to-end encryption to prevent WhatsApp or unwanted third-party sources from viewing messages. Our encryption technology, developed together with Signal remains the best to date and is highly regarded by security experts.”
Hence, a ban specifically targeting WhatsApp, a subsidiary of Facebook, has left security experts in disbelief. “WhatsApp takes security seriously compared to the other social media messaging platforms.,” said Oded Vanunu, Researcher at Tel Aviv-based security consultancy Checkpoint that regularly points out security flaws in popular messaging apps.
“Every application has vulnerabilities that can be exploited in some way” Oded added, before mentioning that WhatsApp offers security patches regularly to fix the loopholes.
“Most run-off-the-mill messaging platforms can only dream of the kind of security measures taken by WhatsApp”.