Tag: whatsapp

By Jasper Hamill for The Metro 

WhatsApp has promised to take legal action against people or companies who break its rules – even if the ‘abuse’ took place on another platform. The messaging app has strict guidelines governing its own users’ behaviour and anyone who breaks the terms of service can already be hit by a ban.

But now the Facebook-owned company wants to take things a bit further by hauling users into court. And you don’t need to break the rules on WhatsApp itself to find yourself in trouble, because its enforcers will strike even they find ‘off platform-evidence of abuse’.

It wrote: ‘WhatsApp is committed to using the resources at its disposal – including legal action – to prevent abuse that violates our terms of service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use. ‘This is why in addition to technological enforcement, we also take legal action against individuals or companies that we link to on-platform evidence of such abuse.

WhatsApp reserves its right to continue taking legal action in such circumstances.’

If you want to keep a WhatsApp account and not get sued, you might want to avoid using bots to send spam – which is known as automated or bulk messaging. The app has said that anyone who leaves off-platform evidence of abuse after December 7, 2019, will find themselves in its crosshairs.

WhatsApp added: ‘Beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform.

‘For example, off-platform information includes public claims from companies about their ability to use WhatsApp in ways that violate our Terms. This serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies for which we only have off-platform evidence of abuse if that abuse continues beyond December 7, 2019, or if those companies are linked to on-platform evidence of abuse before that date.

‘We are committed to reinforcing the private nature of our platform and keeping users safe from abuse.’

WhatsApp is hacked

Source: BBC

WhatsApp has confirmed that a security flaw in the app let attackers install spy software on their targets’ smartphones.

That has left many of its 1.5-billion users wondering how safe the “simple and secure” messaging app really is.

On Wednesday, chip-maker Intel confirmed that new problems discovered with some of its processors could reveal secret information to attacks.

How trustworthy are apps and devices?

Was WhatsApp’s encryption broken? No. Messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they are scrambled when they leave the sender’s device. The messages can be decrypted by the recipient’s device only.

That means law enforcement, service providers and cyber-criminals cannot read any messages they intercept as they travel across the internet.

However, there are some caveats.

Messages can be read before they are encrypted or after they are decrypted. That means any spyware dropped on the phone by an attacker could read the messages.

What is encryption?
On Tuesday, news site Bloomberg published an opinion article calling WhatsApp’s encryption “pointless”, given the security breach.

However, that viewpoint has been widely ridiculed by cyber-security experts.

“I don’t think it’s helpful to say end-to-end encryption is pointless just because a vulnerability is occasionally found,” said Dr Jessica Barker from the cyber-security company Cygenta.

“Encryption is a good thing that does offer us protection in most cases.”

Cyber-security is often a game of cat and mouse.

End-to-end encryption makes it much harder for attackers to read messages, even if they do eventually find a way to access some of them.

What about back-ups?
WhatsApp gives the option to back up chats to Google Drive or iCloud but those back-up copies are not protected by the end-to-end encryption.

An attacker could access old chats if they broke into a cloud storage account.

How to stay safe on WhatsApp
WhatsApp discovers ‘targeted’ surveillance attack
Of course, even if users decide not to back up chats, the people they message may still upload a copy to their cloud storage.

Should people stop using WhatsApp?
Ultimately, any app could contain a security vulnerability that leaves a phone open to attackers.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which typically issues software fixes quickly.

Of course, even large companies can make mistakes and Facebook has had its share of data and privacy breaches over the years.

There is no guarantee a rival chat app would not experience a similar security lapse.

At least, following the disclosure of this flaw, WhatsApp is slightly more secure than it was a week ago.

Signal is an open-source project
Some rival chat apps are open-source projects, which means anybody can look at the code powering the app and suggest improvements.

“Open-source software has its value in that it be can tested more widely but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more secure,” said Dr Barker.

“Vulnerabilities can still be found with any tech, so it’s not the answer to our prayers.”

And if someone did decide to switch to a rival chat app, they would still have to convince their contacts to do the same. A chat app without friends is not much use.

Is any device ever safe?
In theory, any device or service could be hacked. In fact, security researchers often joyfully pile in on companies that claim their products are “unhackable”.

They quickly discover vulnerabilities and the embarrassed companies retract their claims.

If people are worried data may be stolen from their computer, one option is to “air gap” the device: disconnect it from the internet entirely.

That stops remote hackers accessing the machine – but even an air gap would not stop an attacker with physical access to the device.

Dr Barker stressed the importance of installing software updates for apps and operating systems.

“WhatsApp pushed out an update and consumers might not have realised that security fixes are often included in updates,” she told BBC News.

WhatsApp did not help the cause, however, by describing the latest update as adding “full-size stickers”, and not mentioning the security breach.

“People need to be made aware that updates are really important. The quicker we can update our apps, the more secure we are,” said Dr Barker.

As always, there are simple security steps to remember:

  • Install app and operating system security updates
  • Use a different password for every app or service
  • Where possible, enable two-step authentication to stop attackers logging in to accounts
  • Be careful about what apps you download
  • Do not click links in emails or messages you are not expecting

By Dalvin Brown for USA Today

Facebook kicked off its annual developer conference on Tuesday where the tech giant announced the big changes coming to its family of apps.

At the multi-day conference, the social networking giant unveiled a redesign for Facebook, updates for Instagram and a new dating feature called Secret Crush. Facebook also said Messenger will eventually take up less of your smartphone’s storage and the company says it’s diving deeper into the world of augmented reality.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Facebook redesign

Facebook is overhauling the mobile app for the fifth time ever.

The company is calling the redesign “FB5,” and it will roll out over the next few months. One of the most visible changes so far is the elimination of the big blue bar at the top of the screen that Facebook has been known for.

The company is also reinventing the way users engage with Groups and Events.

Groups will be easier to find and easier to participate in, Facebook said in a blog post.

The tech giant also said that the social networking app is home to tens of millions of active groups that users find “meaningful.”

“With this in mind, we’re rolling out a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler and puts your communities at the center. We’re also introducing new tools that will help make it easier for you to discover and engage with groups of people who share your interests,” Facebook said in a blog post.

There’s also a fresh Events tab that will make it easier for users to see what’s going on around them, discover local businesses and get recommendations.

Instagram updates

The photo-sharing app has a new camera mode, and it’s testing out features to “lead the fight against bullying.”

Create Mode will let you create a post for Stories that isn’t a photo or video, something that is sure to be popular with users who want to add text to a solid color background. The camera in Instagram Stories is also becoming easier to spot as it has been hard to figure out for some users.

Another new feature will enable any influencer or celebrity to tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy them within the Instagram app.

Instagram is also running a beta test to hide the like count from photos and view count from videos in an effort to get users to pay attention to the content itself and not engagement metrics that often cause people to compare themselves to others.

Instagram said that the “private likes” test would begin later this week for users in Canada.

Messenger changes
Facebook Messenger’s mobile app is getting smaller.

The company said it’s creating a new version that will use less of your smartphone’s battery power and take up less than 30MB of storage. The new app will also launch faster, in under 2 seconds to be exact, Facebook said.

Messenger will also be available on the desktop.

“People want to seamlessly message from any device, and sometimes they just want a little more space to share and connect with the people they care about most,” Facebook said in a statement.

WhatsApp for Business

The private messenger isn’t changing much.

The only notable addition is a new Catalogs for a business feature that’s launching in the months ahead. With that feature, people will be able to see what’s available from businesses participating in WhatsApp Business when the feature rolls out later this year.

“This is going to be especially important for all of the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence, and that are increasingly using private social platforms is their main way of interacting with their customers,” said Zuckerberg onstage.

AR and VR expansion
Zuckerberg also announced that Oculus will start shipping two new virtual-reality headsets, the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, later in May. Each will cost $399.

Pre-orders for both headsets begin immediately.

Facebook also relaunched Oculus for Business with the intention of supporting an ecosystem of business administrators, developers and end users. Oculus for Business is designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace.

Look out for these five WhatsApp scams

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

WhatsApp has become the most prominent messaging platform across many parts of the world, offering a range of features which enable faster and more convenient communication.

The application also boasts impressive security, with end-to-end encryption delivering secure communication.

Due to its high rate of adoption, however, it has also become a targeted platform for scammers and attacks which aim to either compromise the user’s details or infect their device with malware.

The nature of these scams and attacks is constantly evolving, but we have listed five of the most prominent and dangerous scams currently in circulation below.

SIM-swop takeover
SIM-swop fraud is one of the biggest threats to South African WhatsApp users, considering the meteoric rise in the number of cases reported over the last year.

By committing SIM-swop fraud and taking ownership of your number, a user can easily and instantly install WhatsApp on their own smartphone and log in with your account.

The two-factor authentication message will be sent to the number used to log in, which the attacker will now have access to.

From here, they can easily scam your contacts to divulge information or send them money by impersonating you.

This type of attack is also a serious threat to the security of platforms which use SMS two-factor authentication – including many banking apps.

Users should check immediately with their cellphone provider if reception on their cellphone is lost for no apparent reason, as this is the first sign that SIM-swop fraud has been committed.

Verification request
This type of scam is spread through compromised accounts, and usually comes from a known contact who has had their account compromised.

Victims will receive a message from a user in their WhatsApp contact list who asks them to send them their WhatsApp verification code.

If they do this, scammers will have access to everything they need to access the user’s Whatsapp account and will take over their number.

From the compromised profile, scammers will either ask the victim’s contacts for verification codes to access their profile or they will pose as the victim and ask for mobile money payments.

The easiest way to avoid this scam is to never divulge your WhatsApp verification code and be wary about sending your contacts money if they are acting strangely over WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Gold
WhatsApp Gold is a well-known hoax which has been around for years, although it still seems to resurface occasionally and catches out many people.

The scam is a simple phishing attack which comprises hoax messages stating that WhatsApp has launched a new upgraded messaging service called WhatsApp Gold.

Often this premium version is advertised as free and including features such as new themes and free voice calls.

The message contains a link to download the “latest secret update” for WhatsApp Gold, which actually leads to malicious software being installed on the victim’s device.

This malware could do anything from steal your information to spy on your messages and communications.

Avoiding scams like this is easy if you follow best practices and never click on unknown links or download unverified software onto your device.

Phishing with vouchers
This is similar to the WhatsApp Gold scam, but these messages are usually sent from a number impersonating a fake contact.

The message generally states that users have won a free voucher for a local supermarket in return for them filling in a short survey.

However, the link contained in this message goes to a fake website which impersonates the supermarket’s web page.

Once users have entered their details into this website, their information has been compromised and is fed straight to the scammers.

WhatsApp is not the only platform where this scam takes place, as this is one of the most widespread and organised types of scams operating around the world.

Malicious spy apps
During your online browsing or within a WhatsApp message, you may find a link to download a WhatsApp “spy app”.

These applications claim to be able to see what your contacts are saying to each other, along with giving you the ability to intercept their pictures, voice messages, and images.

Of course there is no way to intercept WhatsApp messages in this way as all conversations are end-to-end encrypted.

Instead, these applications usually either install malware on the victim’s device or sign them up to subscription content services which charge exorbitant fees.

It is also important to realise that the Google Play Store is not infallible and can contain many malware-infested “WhatsApp Spy” apps.

You can now buy MTN data via Whatsapp

Source: Business Insider SA

Following the example of Absa, MTN launched a WhatsApp service on Tuesday. You can now buy MTN data via WhatsApp.

The announcement came during a turbulent day for the company, which at one stage saw its share price down 7%.
In a dramatic day for MTN for other reasons, the company launched a new WhatsApp service on Tuesday to allow customers to interact with it via the popular text-messaging platform.

MTN’s share price suffered a sharp drop in the morning, after the Nigerian government urged a Lagos court to proceed with a penalty of $2 billion (R29 billion) against MTN. The government first instituted the penalty last year, accusing MTN of evading taxes. MTN’s share price has lost almost a fifth of its value in response.

The Whatsapp-based MTN Chat service will eventually also allow customers to speak to customer support and upgrade their packages. Customers will also get low-balance alerts via WhatsApp.

MTN follows Absa, which recently introduced WhatsApp-based “chat banking”.

Though MTN reportedly claimed a “world first” in allowing customers to buy airtime via WhatsApp, Absa customers can already do just that via its service.

WhatsApp remains by far the most popular messenger app in South Africa; according to a recent study, 49% of adult South Africans use WhatsApp – compared to Facebook Messenger’s 32%.

As with the Absa service, MTN Chat has been enabled by South African-born company Clickatell, which was founded in Cape Town in 2000 to help businesses communicate via SMS.

It has since partnered with WhatsApp, and now has a head office in Silicon Valley, with 15 000 clients around the world, including Visa, IBM and McKinsey. Clickatell may even consider listing in the US this year.

Edited by Neo Sesinye for IT News Africa

Popular Facebook-owned chat service WhatsApp has updated its iOS app, on Tuesday, 05 February with support for biometric authentication, allowing users to ‘lock’ the app with Face ID or Touch ID.

To activate the new feature, you’ll need to head to the settings inside the app, then hit “account,” “privacy,” and “screen lock.”

There, you can choose to activate Face ID or Touch ID, though of course the available option will depend on your model of iPhone — Touch ID exists on the iPhone 5S through to the iPhone 8 / 8 Plus. Face ID replaced Touch ID from the iPhone X onward.

Once the feature is activated, you can stipulate if you prefer Face ID or Touch ID used immediately or after 1 minute, 15 minutes, or 60 minutes of inactivity.

Interestingly, WhatsApp hasn’t added the option to add a separate passcode and users will have to rely on biometrics like Touch ID or Face ID only which is used to lock the iPhone or iPad.

Previously, WhatsApp made headlines when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that merging Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram would create a safer experience. He compared the possible merging of the services to iMessage.

Allowing users to lock down WhatsApp behind a biometric authentication system could certainly help that broader mission, and it seems the company is preparing something similar for its Android app, as evidenced by a beta build that recently emerged.

Facebook to merge WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger

By Sarah Frier for Bloomberg/Fin24 

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate the chat tools on the WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger services, a move that could help the social media giant identify users’ identities across all of its properties, and bolster its case against a breakup by regulators.

Zuckerberg’s plans, reported earlier by the New York Times, would involve stitching together the three apps’ messaging products behind the scenes, though consumers would still interact with each service separately. Facebook says the move would also enhance users’ privacy by introducing encryption to protect the messages from being viewed by anyone except those involved in the conversation.

“People want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private,” Facebook said in a statement. “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks. As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work.”

The move isn’t something that Facebook’s more than 2 billion users have been asking for. Stitching the apps together may increase data-sharing among the properties, helping Facebook identify users across the platform, and improve the ability to target ads to them.

WhatsApp currently allows a person to create an account simply with a phone number, while Instagram allows people to have multiple anonymous accounts without using their real names. Zuckerberg’s vision centres around a service based on real identity.

WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19bn, and Instagram, which was purchased in 2012 for $715m, had been operated relatively independently within Facebook until they grew to become more important parts of Facebook’s business.

Tensions around Zuckerberg’s pushes for integration and control led to the departures of founders of both services in the last year, people familiar with the matter have said. Last year, Zuckerberg started calling his portfolio a “family of apps.”

Another potential argument for bringing the three units more firmly into the parental fold is the threat of a regulatory breakup of Facebook.

Progressive groups have been urging the Federal Trade Commission for months to carve up Facebook and split off Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into their own companies. That would be harder to accomplish if the services are more tightly entwined.

At the same time, it may increase concerns about transparency for consumers around how Facebook’s data gathering works.

Rare WhatsApp bug can expose your chats

By Vikas Shukla for Value Walk

WhatsApp has a lot on its plate. It’s trying to fight the spread of fake news via its app. It’s working on a bunch of new features to make its service more secure and offer better user experience. At the same time, it also has to deal with weird bugs, hoax messages, and scams.

The ever-investigative folks at Piunikaweb have now spotted what could be a pretty rare WhatsApp bug. The worst thing about it is that it could let someone else read your chats in plain text after you have changed your phone number.

What does this rare WhatsApp bug do?
Amazon employee Abby Fuller said in a tweet that she was in for a bit of a surprise when she popped in her new SIM into a new smartphone and tried logging into WhatsApp. She was able to view and read the chat history linked to the WhatsApp account of the previous owner of that phone number. The past owner of the number may have no idea that Abby was able to read their chat in plain text.

WhatsApp says on its website that when you change your phone number, you should first delete your old account. If you don’t delete it and no longer have access to it, it will automatically delete all the data associated with your old number within 45 days. What’s surprising here is that Abby Fuller has been using the new number for more than 45 days. Theoretically, the data associated with the previous owner’s account should have been deleted within 45 days.

Piunikaweb says Abby Fuller has deleted the chats associated with the previous owner. It’s a huge privacy issue, nonetheless. The publication noted that it’s “definitely a bug” as Abby could view someone else’s chats in plain text when the SIM has been in her name for more than 45 days. Lending further credibility to this view is that Abby didn’t restore it from the backup.

Filippo Valsorda, who works at Google, said it’s possible that the messages Abby received were sent after the previous owner stopped using it. Those messages stayed with one tick, and got resent when Abby registered that phone number with WhatsApp. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this rare WhatsApp bug. The Facebook-owned service hasn’t yet officially commented on the issue.

Separately, a bunch of users have been complaining about another WhatsApp bug that causes the messages to disappear from the app. A user named Bharat Mishra told WABetaInfo that every morning he finds some of his old chats disappearing mysteriously from the app. Mishra uses a Moto G4 Plus, and has re-installed WhatsApp several times in an attempt to get rid of this issue. He has also sent “more than 25 emails” to WhatsApp regarding the issue, but hasn’t heard back. A similar problem was reported late last year by another user, who claimed to have been facing the same issue since April.

If you are not haunted by one WhatsApp bug or another, you might be interested in the new features coming to the messaging service. Past reports have suggested that the company was working on adding Face ID and Touch ID support to WhatsApp for iOS to enhance security. It’s still in the development process. Now WABetaInfo reports that the WhatsApp beta version numbered Android 2.19.3 has biometric authentication for Android users. It means we should expect both the Android and iOS version of WhatsApp to get biometric authentication in the coming months for added security.

Source: The Citizen

WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels confirmed at an event in New Delhi, India earlier this week that the popular messaging app will start showing users ads in the app’s status feature come 2019.

The WhatsApp status feature was launched early last year to mimic Snapchat’s stories feature which was later co-opted by Instagram and Facebook and it allows users to share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs that disappear after 24 hours.

According to India’s Economic Times, Daniels told journalists “we are going to be putting ads in ‘Status’. That is going to be primary monetisation mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.”

The new feature will take effect in 2019 but Daniels could not lock down an exact date.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to monetise WhatsApp has forced the social media messaging service’s co-founders to leave the company reports Economic Times.

On of the app’s co-founders Brian Acton told Forbes that the move would undermine elements of WHatsapp’s encryption technology and that Zuckerberg was in a rush to make money from the app after purchasing it for $19 billion four years ago.

What it costs to send a WhatsApp message in SA

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

WhatsApp has become the most popular messaging app for smartphones in South Africa, thanks to its cheap messaging costs compared to standard SMS rates offered by mobile operators.

The app offers South Africans a way to call, text, and share media with each other at rates far lower than anything offered by mobile networks, even when using a mobile data bundle.

Our previous tests have shown that using WhatsApp to call over a mobile data connection is far cheaper than making a cellular call to another user.

However, other forms of communication offered by the app use different amounts of mobile data.

We therefore tested how much data was used by different types of WhatsApp messaging and calling options.

Data usage
The WhatsApp data usage was measured using WhatsApp’s built-in network usage tools, which provide a refined data usage measurement for smaller options such as text messages.

Data on video and voice calling over WhatsApp was sourced from MyBroadband’s previous tests.

We used two Android smartphones for this test, sending one message at a time between the devices and monitoring the data usage reflected within the application.

The data usage for text messages, standard-resolution photos, one-minute voice calls, 30-second voice notes, 10-second videos, and one-minute voice calls was collected and compared to provide an overview of the data usage requirements for WhatsApp on a modern smartphone.

From the data we collected, it is apparent that certain functions such as voice notes and standard text messages use very little data and can be quite optimal for communicating over mobile data.

To determine how much each message would cost, we compared the amount of data used for each message type with the price of a 1GB data bundle on each mobile network in South Africa.

Standard 1GB mobile data bundle pricing was used to provide parity with Rain, which charges a flat R50-per-GB rate on its data-only network.

We used these prices to calculate a price-per-MB, which was then used to calculate how much each WhatsApp message type would cost on the mobile networks.

The results are posted below:

  • 1
  • 2

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