Whatsapp chats

Whatsapp chats; what is the surety that it’s private?

Whatsapp is a prominent social media platform which is used to text, have voice calls and video calls with anyone around the world. The main feature of Whatsapp is its privacy and end-to-end encryption. When it comes to privacy, no application available today can beat Whatsapp. Today, the American owned Facebook Company has around 2 billion users worldwide. On a daily basis 65 billion messages are being transferred across 180 countries.

Compared to other messaging apps, Whatsapp is simple and enables the user to send text, audio, video and document files. All these transmission are protected by end-to-end encryption, only the sender and the receiver can read the message. Even the developers of Whatsapp cannot read the message between two people.

Nowadays, the reputation Whatsapp made through all these years started to deplete slowly. Serious allegations are being raised against Whatsapp on the issue of privacy. They are also alleged of unauthorized access and misuse.

In India, there are instances where the authorities use the chats of people for investigation purposes. But this has brought up concern among the people about their security and the privacy apparatus of the established application. Cyber departments and the media using privacy chats for their purpose has questioned people’s fundamental right. People are now demanding an effective comprehensive law that protects their data and privacy.

As per the research, other social media platforms like Telegram, iMessage and Signal are vulnerable to data leak. Whatsapp strongly claims that, if a user sends a message to another user, the data is travelled from the device to the servers of Whatspp. From there it gets transferred to the target device. There is no interception in between. This is what they technically call as end-to-end encryption. They add that each message will have an encryption lock, which can only be opened by the receiver using the decryption key.

In most of the cases as discussed, cyber cell officials are backing up the suspects Whatsapp messages and are not decrypting the messages in the middle. There are speculations that the hackers and the government are deploying spyware in Whatsapp to leak chats from the targeted phone where they can view the decrypted messages live.

When you activate the back-up option in Whatsapp, it automatically stores the messages in the Google drive or iCloud. In such cases it becomes easy for the hackers to get access of your data. So in order to retrieve the back-up, the user has to uninstall Whatsapp and then reinstall them from the same device or another.

Your messages or data are not stored in the Whatsapp servers. Once you send a message or document, if there is any delay in sending, Whatsapp temporarily stores the information in the servers until it is sent to the other user. The maximum time frame Whatsapp can keep a data is 30 days. If it not delivered even after 30 days, the message is automatically deleted.

When you text someone and delete them from your chat, is it possible for the authorities to retrieve them?

Yes, as per the Telegraph act when a person is suspected of a crime, it is possible to get back the chats of the person even if he has deleted them. This is based on the device the person use and its vulnerabilities. The chat service provider has nothing to do with this.

So in general it is possible to leak the Whatsapp data by a technically skilled hacker.

Things to do, if you feel unsafe or feel that your data is leaking

  • Disable the Whatsapp cloud back-up option

To disable the back-up, just go to the ‘settings’ and select ‘chat’. Under the chat option you have ‘chat back-up’ and update ‘Never’ so that Whatsapp will no more store your messages. The messages you send will remain only on your phone as well the recipient’s phone. Finally, disable the back-up feature.

  • Erase the Whatsapp chats from the Google Drive

Even though you have turned off the back-up feature, there will be previous messages stored in the Google Drive or Cloud. To erase them, visit the official page of Google Drive and click on to the gear icon. Under the settings, look for ‘Managing app’ and next ‘Whatsapp’. When you select Whatsapp you will find ‘Delete hidden app data’. Click on to that and erase everything.

  • Deleting the chats from iCloud

Erasing the stored data is easier for the iPhone users. They just need to go to the settings and click on your name to enter the Apple ID settings. Next go to the ‘iCloud’ tab and select ‘Manage storage’. Under manage storage option you will have the ‘Delete Data’ button which helps you to clear your chat.

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