There’s no place online that’s really safe for users. The global panic Facebook created with its advice to 1.5 billion users to upgrade their WhatsApp to plug a security hole is a reminder that anything online can be breached. WhatsApp was meant to be the confidential communication platform that is encrypted end to end and secure from eavesdropping. The app promising fast, simple and secure messaging is also known to be wary of giving governments access to users’ messages or phone calls even if requests are made on national security grounds. The popularity of the Facebook-owned platform is predicated on the protection it offers users from snooping governments in this age when those in authority seem to want to know what their citizens are up to.
WhatsApp could absolve itself of blame over this security breach, that could have been made only by an advanced player in the spy business. Israeli firms have for long been offering professional services like hacking into emails. Even the BCCI was a client once. But specific hacking of human rights activists and journalists suggests this is clearly the work of a governmental client, and should be a warning to anyone holding an opinion in public space that he/she is subject to surveillance. News of serial weaknesses in security leading to outing of personal data of social media users worldwide has of late stung the Mark Zuckerberg stable of Facebook-WhatsApp-Instagram. It’s only now Facebook is setting up data and content controls. But there’s still no guarantee that anyone’s data is wholly secure online.