Telegram founder calls WhatsApp a "surveillance tool" with "planted backdoors"

midian182

Posts: 8,484   +104
Staff member
A hot potato: With over 2 billion monthly active users globally, WhatsApp is the world's most popular mobile messaging app. But the founder of rival service Telegram thinks people should stay away from Meta's product, which he calls a surveillance tool constantly plagued with security issues.

On Thursday, Pavel Durov wrote in his Telegram channel that people should use any messaging app they like, "but do stay away from WhatsApp – it has now been a surveillance tool for 13 years."

Durov was referencing two security issues discovered in WhatsApp last week that could allow remote code execution on specific devices. Hackers just needed to establish a video call with a victim or send them a specially crafted video file. WhatsApp has since released security updates to address the vulnerabilities.

The Russian national, who now lives in self-imposed exile, noted that even upgrading WhatsApp to the latest version doesn't guarantee you'll be secure. He pointed out that security issues identical to those recently patched were discovered in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. He also notes that WhatsApp didn't have end-to-end encryption before 2016.

"Hackers could have full access (!) to everything on the phones of WhatsApp users," Durov wrote. "Every year we learn about some issue in WhatsApp that puts everything on their users' devices at risk."

Durov says these security issues aren't incidental but "planted backdoors," with a new backdoor added every time a previous one is discovered and removed. "It doesn't matter if you are the richest person on Earth – if you have WhatsApp installed on your phone, all your data from every app on your device is accessible."

That "richest person on Earth" line references the former world's wealthiest person, Jeff Bezos. The Amazon founder's phone was hacked in 2018 via a WhatsApp video message allegedly sent from the account of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It's easy to imagine Durov disparaging WhatsApp to attract more users to his platform. But the CEO notes that Telegram's 700 million active users and 2 million daily signups mean the privacy-focused service doesn't need any additional promotional.

When asked about Durov's claims, a Meta spokesperson told The Independent, "This is complete rubbish."

Meta isn't the first tech giant to face criticism from Durov. He went after Apple in 2021 for selling "overpriced, obsolete hardware" from the "Middle Ages." More recently, he said Cupertino "intentionally cripples" web apps by not updating WebKit.

In addition to the security vulnerabilities, WhatsApp has faced plenty of claims that it violates users' privacy, including the controversial Facebook data-sharing policy. It was also hit with a record $267 million fine last year for GDPR violations.

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trparky

Posts: 1,159   +1,320
If it's owned by Sh*tbook, then you know that it's nothing more than a spy tool.

As for that $267 million fine last year for GDPR violations, nothing short of a multi-billion dollar fine will faze these ***holes. The fines need to be so big that it will hurt them hard! I'm talking something like $10 Billion every quarter.
 
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emmzo

Posts: 815   +1,251
If it's owned by Sh*tbook, then you know that it's nothing more than a spy tool.

As for that $267 million fine last year for GDPR violations, nothing short of a multi-billion dollar fine will phase these ***holes. The fines need to be so big that it will hurt them hard! I'm talking something like $10 Billion every quarter.
Fines don't work that well. They'll drag you in court for years and even if they eventually pay, it's usually less and they don't really change anything much, they just find another loophole. I'd say shut them down until they fix it and pay the fine. They would lose tens of millions a day and they will be the ones hurrying to comply.
 

Morphine Child

Posts: 173   +324
Quite happy with mine, thank you. My life is not that interesting that I think anyone would read what I write anyway.

Plus, they are all big on words until someone offers enough to buy them off...
 

netman

Posts: 854   +387
"Telegram founder calls WhatsApp a "surveillance tool" with "planted backdoors""

Both Facebook and Whatsapp have been NSA front for more than a decade...!

"It's easy to imagine Durov disparaging WhatsApp to attract more users to his platform"

This is only a western thinking...! As evidence shows he does not need the promotion...!
 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 211   +132
There is a threaty in the EU, UK and proberly US too, that grants authorities access to individuals their phone. Sometimes they dont even need a warrant, its just right there. Submit a request and poof meta deliveres all that data on a plate.

They are not risking their entire userbase to have Whatsapp banned in the respected area's, but simply give up a few individuals who are high profiled or target in exchange to keep that throne. The guy of Telegram is right. Whatsapp is messy, it is doing anything but keeping focus on privacy.

I'm amazed by how whatsapp web sometimes just downloads chats and everything stored right off the bat without my phone even being connected.

 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,399   +1,040
Don't trust any app -

I have no need ( corrected for stupidity below ) - but never trust the security of the transmission and encrypting app combined into one .

I have no need - but I think we have now had forever = pgp ( can't remember pretty good protection ???)
Private key , public key thingy - send it encrypted - use the apps encryption to hide you are sending it encrypted ( I believe if you have a lot of messages you can tell - ie no encrypted message is truly 100% random 0s and 1s )

I realize I do = I have to trust chrome to protect credit card etc , banking
 
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ChrisH1

Posts: 218   +113
Thinking of moving towards 2 phones … one with everything I care about such as banking, and used only for phone calls and text messages, and possibly important emails if I can find a secure enough client, and one for all the non-essential stuff, with nothing worth having if it’s hacked.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 761   +643
His claims are hardly surprising. Why would Facebook buy WhatsApp to begin with? So that people can have free access to a chat system that is safe and secure and separate from their core business?
 

PEnnn

Posts: 1,010   +1,361
It's owned by Bookface. Enough said.

Yesterday I was looking at a web page and DuckDuckGo blocked and alerted me there is a Facebook tracker in one of the website logo pictures (which weren't even clickable!)!

Even without an FB account, those effers are tracking us!!
 

Hodor

Posts: 436   +305
Telegram is a textbook example of an invasive app that collects user data and asks for more permissions than any other normal social app (except Viber, which behaves the same). WhatsApp actually asks for less access to the phone modules and doesn't implement censorship on videos and pictures.

Telegram has censorship everywhere, as their attempt on limiting free speech.

The lack of censorship on WhatsApp is what worries their competitors. People can actually say what they think. And to Telegram founder that's awful. How dare they to express their opinion!!
 

bviktor

Posts: 1,158   +1,690
Quite happy with mine, thank you. My life is not that interesting that I think anyone would read what I write anyway.

Plus, they are all big on words until someone offers enough to buy them off...
I don't know why you like anyone being able to sniff on your phone, but fine I guess.

I guess you send letters without an envelope as well. It's not that interesting and all.
 

bviktor

Posts: 1,158   +1,690
Telegram is a textbook example of an invasive app that collects user data and asks for more permissions than any other normal social app (except Viber, which behaves the same). WhatsApp actually asks for less access to the phone modules and doesn't implement censorship on videos and pictures.

Telegram has censorship everywhere, as their attempt on limiting free speech.

The lack of censorship on WhatsApp is what worries their competitors. People can actually say what they think. And to Telegram founder that's awful. How dare they to express their opinion!!
Yeah, no. You're factually wrong. Just check the amount of data the app requests. It's like one third of Messenger.

If you actually believe WhatsApp has no censorship, you're delusional as well.

It *can* work with E2EE - which Telegram also has, btw.
 

ron baer

Posts: 62   +18
You mean that we didnt know this from 5-7 years ago when there was a big hack and it was leaked that the "secure photos" were saved in 7 different locations on the device
 

Morphine Child

Posts: 173   +324
I don't know why you like anyone being able to sniff on your phone, but fine I guess.

I guess you send letters without an envelope as well. It's not that interesting and all.
I don't like it but it's a reality of a world we live in. Plus, any company that says they value your privacy usually does so until big enough offer comes their way. So in the end it really makes no difference.

And who sends letters these days? :D