Could this 'newly discovered' WhatsApp feature enable anyone to spy on you?

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January 16, 2017
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2 min read

You might remember that Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $16 billion on February 19 2014, its largest acquisition to date.

On January 13th 2017, the Guardian published an article alleging the presence of a security backdoor in the messaging platform, which would allow Facebook and government agencies to snoop on users messages.

WhatsApp responded with a statement that the company "does not give governments a ‘backdoor’ into its systems" and would fight any government request to create a backdoor.

The Verge also claims the Guardian piece describes an advanced but plausible attack that WhatsApp encryption can't stop. An attacker could actually get access to a WhatsApp server, forcibly reset the keys used to encrypt messages and intercept any further messages sent between parties.

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Thankfully, there is no known attacker at the moment that has the level of skill to pull it off. Frederic Jacobs, who was an iOS developer at Open Whisper Systems -- the company behind the technology WhatsApp's uses for encryption -- has dismissed the threat as nothing new.

https://twitter.com/FredericJacobs/status/819866979020443648

Apparently, the backdoor described by the Guardian is a feature 'working as intended'. It would require significant collaboration with Facebook to be able to snoop on and intercept someones encrypted messages.

However with all the stated facts that have been laid down, it appears there is actually a hidden plan to have a backdoor and it is possible for any individual with good knowledge of what he/she is doing to access encrypted end-to-end messages, even if Facebook wouldn't do that

This feature should either be improved on, to reduce vulnerability, or removed entirely to avoid embarrassment and loss of users in the long run.

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