WhatsApp New Privacy Policy: Nothing Is Truly Free!

So the most popular social messenger which most Malaysians use as their preferred communication tool is adding new terms and condition to its user agreement. WhatsApp which is used by professionals, government officials, politicians and the man on the street will be including new policy come February 8 where it has stated that users data will be shared to parent company Facebook.

According to Kaspersky’s senior researcher Anna Larkina, it should be known by now that ‘nothing is truly free’ and, unfortunately, the current business model for free services means that, essentially, we pay with our data. Social networks, some messengers and search engines make money off of advertising, and the more personalized it is the better. In fact, Facebook and other companies have been doing this through its services for the past few years.

However it has to be acknowledged that most of the companies, including Facebook, are being transparent about its policies and WhatsApp doesn’t read your conversations because it includes end-to-end encryption. All they’re tracing is technical and account information.

Moving forward, the integration between Facebook and WhatsApp will only continue to increase, and users will need to decide what level of information sharing they’re comfortable with and which messaging applications they prefer. For those not comfortable there are a variety of alternative messaging platforms and users can decide for themselves what works best for them but they need to contend that those which are free to use will also be data mining to support their business.

So which messenger service is safe? According to Victor Chebyshev, mobile threat researcher at Kaspersky, most messaging apps today are relatively safe since they use encryption when sending messages. On iOS, this fact makes such applications really quite reliable. However, it’s worth remembering that the user may face an attack on the device or an attempt by attackers to infect it. That’s why, on Android, the situation is a bit different, since, for example, there is a built-in Accessibility Service. Attackers are known to have exploited the capabilities of this service in order to collect user data. In particular, last year, the researcher discovered stalkerware that could receive the text of incoming and outgoing messages from instant messengers using this standard function.

In order to protect your data, it is recommended that mobile device users adhere to certain rules; don’t download messengers and other programs from third-party sources. Use only official application marketplaces. If possible, acquaint oneself with the user agreement. There are situations when the developer of the app openly warns that they may share user data with third-parties. Do not follow suspicious links from messages, even if they were sent to you by your friends. Use security solutions when possible on your mobile devices. Pay attention to which permissions downloaded applications request. If the requested permission is not necessary for the full functioning of the application, then there is a reason to be wary.

For example, the flashlight app clearly doesn’t need access to the microphone.!

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