The founder of a rival encrypted messaging app, Telegram, has accused Facebook-owned WhatsApp of being used as a tool to spy on its users.
Pavel Durov said that a recent security flaw that exposed WhatsApp users’ private messages and photos was evidence of the app’s dodgy behaviour.
Previously, Durov, among many others, has criticised the service claiming it would never truly be secure. Citing a series of bugs that have recently plagued WhatsApp, Durov said the app consistently put its users at risk to hackers and government intelligence agencies.
Describing the app as a “Trojan Horse” in his latest Telegram post, Durov said that WhatsApp is capable of turning any phone into spyware.
“Everything on your phone – including photos, emails and texts – could be accessed by attackers just because you had WhatsApp installed,” he wrote.
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“Every time WhatsApp has to fix a critical vulnerability in their app, a new one seems to take its place. All of their security issues are conveniently suitable for surveillance, look and work a lot like backdoors,” he continued.
“Facebook has been part of surveillance programs long before it acquired WhatsApp. It is naive to think the company would change its policies after the acquisition.”
He said that remarks made by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton regarding the sale of the app to Facebook (“I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit”) point to the true nature of the app.
Facebook has stated that there is no indication that the most recent flaw had been exploited by hackers, adding “there is no reason to believe that users were impacted”. However, Durov said this lack of evidence was “convenient” and that the lack of data stored on servers meant it would be hard to discover if a hacker had successfully exploited users’ data.
“It is unlikely that anyone can accidentally commit major security errors, conveniently suitable for surveillance, on a regular basis,” he said.
It is the frequency and consistency of these flaws that Durov says is proof Facebook is complicit with spying. “Unless you are cool with all your photos and message becoming public one day, you should delete WhatsApp from your phone,” he concluded.