The United Nations has stopped its officials from using WhatsApp as a means of communications since June 2019 following concerns that there might have been an hack on the phone of Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos the year before.
Sometime last week, UN experts accused the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, of being involved in the alleged 2018 cyberattack on Bezos.
The attack is said to have extracted information from Bezos’ phone through a video sent by the prince. Some of these information were sensitive, one of which led to the death of Washington Post Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi and another revealing Bezos’s extramarital affair which led to his divorce.
And although it was not confirmed as at then, UN is said to have ordered its senior officials, not to use WhatsApp for communication as it “it’s not supported as a secure mechanism”.
This is possibly a security measure put in place by the organization to protect its top ranking officers from such a hack.
But what makes this odd is the fact that WhatsApp is indeed one of the most secure Instant Messaging platforms out there. The platform was the first major service to adopt end-to-end encryption by default for all its features like chat, videos, calls.
This means that WhatsApp or anyone else for that matter, is prevented from viewing what goes on in the chats of users. It currently provides it for its over 1.5 billion users globally.
Infact, WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum was reported to have left the company following disagreements about privacy and the end to end encryption – which Facebook might have wanted to reduce.
“The encryption technology that we developed with Signal is highly regarded by security experts and remains the best available for people around the world.”Carl Woog, Director of Communications, WhatsApp.
As such Bezos’ hack was a targeted one and might have been as a result of a vulnerability in WhatsApp – an element that is not alien with softwares. However, WhatsApp still remains a good and secure choice for communicating and transfer of important files – except you know a Saudi prince.
Nevertheless, it is important to operate safe internet habits like updating apps and softwares when prompted to, and being careful about what you send and download online.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!