WhatsApp is used by over two billion users around the world hence keeping the messaging platform secure is of the utmost importance. Time and again the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform has said that all chats happening on WhatsApp are safe and secure and can’t be accessed by a third party, in fact not even WhatsApp. However, some of the recent incidents around the leak of WhatsApp chats of popular Bollywood actors tell a different story altogether.
Over the past few days and weeks, reports have shown leaked WhatsApp chats of Bollywood actors in the ongoing drug probe and Sushant Singh Rajput case in Mumbai. This has raised concerns among WhatsApp users about the privacy of their private chats with friends and others on the messaging platform. Despite the leak of chats, WhatsApp claims that its platform is secure and keeps conversations safe and end-to-end encrypted.
In a statement to the media, a WhatsApp spokesperson said that the platform “protects your messages with end-to-end encryption so that only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between can access it, not even WhatsApp.” “It’s important to remember that people sign up on WhatsApp using only a phone number, and WhatsApp doesn’t have access to your message content,” the spokesperson further stated.
However, users must know that WhatsApp backup that includes chats, documents and all other media files happen on Google Drive on Android phones and iCloud for iPhones and nothing is in WhatsApp’s hand in that case. “WhatsApp follows guidance provided by operating system manufacturers for on-device storage,” a WhatsApp spokesperson further added.
It must also be noted that the backup of these files and chats on Google Drive and iCloud are not end-to-end encrypted which means it can be accessed by others if required unlike WhatsApp chats that can be viewed only by the sender and the receiver of the message.
The spokesperson also said that WhatsApp encourages users to take advantage of all the security features provided by operating systems such as strong passwords or biometric IDs to prevent third parties from accessing content stored on the device.
In a blog post explaining end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp stated that “end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what’s sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. Your messages are secured with locks, and only the recipient and you have the special keys needed to unlock and read your messages.” It should be noted that each and every WhatsApp chat has a security code used to verify that calls and the messages that are sent to that chat are end-to-end encrypted.
“For added protection, every message you send has an unique lock and key. All of this happens automatically: No need to turn on settings or set up special secret chats to secure your messages,” the company stated. The end-to-end encryption option on WhatsApp is always activated and there’s no way to turn off the feature.
As far a the leaked chats on some Bollywood actors are concerned, some rumours circulating on the internet suggest that the leaked WhatsApp messages of Deepika Padukone and Shradhha Kapoor were accessed by NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) with the help of mobile phone cloning technique. This technique isn’t anything new and has been there for years now.
In a mobile phone cloning technique data and cellular identity of a device can be copied into a new phone. This can be done with the help of an app and without access to the phone that needs to be cloned. In the process, the transfer of the IMEI can also happen. You must note that mobile phone cloning is illegal for the general public to carry out but authorities like NCB can always take the forensic route to legitimately access data stored on devices. Any cloned phone can access WhatsApp chat backups stored wither in iCloud or Google Drive.
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