WhatsApp recently announced that it will now share user information with its parent company, Facebook. This is a troubling, but not entirely unexpected change in security policy as many social media platforms and apps have been implementing similar practices over the past few years.
The important question is: how will this change the messaging service you’ve known and loved for longer than you can remember? Let’s take a look.
WhatsApp Sharing Information is Not “New”
For roughly 5 years, WhatsApp has been routinely sharing user information with Facebook. As a result, Facebook, WhatsApp, and any employees within this company have access to a wealth of information about their users. Worst of all, most users probably have no idea that this is the case. After all, few people ever read the fine print legal disclaimers included with downloads of messaging software. WhatsApp and Facebook have access to information that includes, but is not limited to:
- Cell Phone Data.
- Usage Time “In-app”.
- Payment Information.
- GPS Data.
WhatsApp may protect some of the specific information contained in messages sent through the app, but tons of data can be gleaned from the above metrics alone. In fact, you may be surprised at just how unsecure your data is even when apps claim they are using encryption best practices.
Social Media Privacy Issues Through the Years
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has appeared before the United States senate on multiple occasions over the last few years to answer questions about the company’s use of user data and other public concerns. Needless to say, security and privacy concerns have come up many times as Facebook’s use of user data has come to light.
Not to be outdone, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter has also had to testify before congress amid concerns of his company’s influence over elections among other issues. While Twitter has come under fire for slightly different issues, they have similarly been questioned about their policies regarding user data.
Very recently, in April of 2021, Dorsey and Zuckerberg, were joined by Sundar Pichai (google CEO) and they were all grilled by congress about their ability to control and police the information shared on their platforms.
These massive tech companies have access to a shocking amount of user data and the catastrophic outcomes that could result from data breaches are hard to imagine. Furthermore, without scalable data security practices that utilize the best available encryption technology, the billions of users on these sites are subject to having their data fall into the hands of malicious criminals.
There are many, MANY scams to watch out for online these days. Scammers will attack users through email, text messaging, phone calls, and social media. As we get better at addressing these efforts to defraud us, criminals also get better at getting around security measures. It’s a never-ending battle and one that is very difficult to overcome.
However, some companies are at the forefront of tech security and have developed encryption methods that even the most skilled hackers are unable to get past.
Envisioning “Complete Security”
For data to be truly secure, every sent and received message would need to be encrypted. The company managing the service would need to maintain their own data center which could not be accessed by any third parties. Additionally, any countries that accessed this data would need to agree to basic privacy rules that protect user data.
Encryption would need to use complex scrambling techniques that make messages unreadable and users impossible to identify by third parties. Further, the direction and number of recipients of messages would be unidentifiable as well with a completely secure system. This means that a third party trying to access user data would be unable to tell whether one user sent a single message to 14 people or if 14 people sent separate messages to a single user.
Back Up Security Features
Ghost offer services with enhanced security also encrypt your pictures, videos, and audio messages. Another necessary feature is a remote “kill switch” function that allows the user to delete all data from their device even if it is lost. This way, if a thief is attempting to access your data, even with your device in his hand, you will be able to prevent him from viewing your important information.
For the extremely tech savvy criminals who gains access to your phone, Securechap app would allow you to wipe your data even in the absence of connection to the internet.
Ghost also allows the user to schedule ahead of time when messages will be deleted. Therefore, even if the intended recipients haven’t read the message, it won’t matter; the message is gone forever. It makes no difference if any users have attempted to forward or save the image or message, these features will be disabled with our fully-secure system, and the message in question will be deleted at the appointed time.
Your privacy and personal data are important. There should never be a question of whether or not your information is secure. In this day and age, hackers can use incredibly complex methods to hold people at ransom by capturing their data. Once they obtain access to your data, it’s very hard to get it back. Data sharing by companies like WhatsApp and Facebook has been a standard practice for years and by all appearances, these companies are only going to increase these data access measures further as long as they still have a huge user base who supports them.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Users can force these companies to change their policies by changing allegiance. Apps such as Signal were downloaded in unbelievably high numbers once WhatsApp announced their policy change, demonstrating how fed up the public is with big tech’s insistence on obtaining our data.
Ghost is one of the best messaging services on the market. The company prides itself on maintaining your security and never sharing your data. You can rest assured that your information and messages will remain between you and your recipients. In a world that is increasingly sacrificing the privacy of the individual, Ghost remains committed to its core values which respect data privacy and security.
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