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Kaspersky comment on WhatsApp end-to-end encryption

September 2021 by Victor Chebyshev, senior security researcher at Kaspersky

Following the news about the doubts on WhatsApp end-to-end encryption,the comment from Victor Chebyshev, senior security researcher at Kaspersky.

“According to WhatsApp’s Terms and Conditions, if a user complains about inappropriate content or someone’s account, the service then has access to their recent messages. Numerous people have falsely concluded that this regulation annuls end-to-end (E2E) encryption.

We need to distinguish between such terms as end-to-end encryption and the ‘report’ button, because they are completely different algorithms. End-to-end encryption gives the user and recipient a special key to unlock and read messages. Even if the messenger provides end-to-end encryption, it doesn’t mean that your interlocutor cannot send private messages from your chat to someone else without your knowledge. And vice versa – after hitting the ‘report’ button, WhatsApp moderators do not get access to all of your data and collect it. They receive information that you provide them with only after you ask. Hence it’s not realistic to claim that WhatsApp gets access to exactly five recent messages, as claimed. We conclude this based only on WhatsApp’s Terms and Conditions, nevertheless, there is no technical proof for this assumption yet.

Speaking of privacy concerns, it is important to remember that no type of online communication can be absolutely 100% private. The presence of encryption and trust in an application are completely different things – and trusting the person you are chatting with is a whole different issue. Even the most secret and protected chat can be photographed, and likewise, E2E traffic encryption does not mean that the other person will not send your message to someone else.
You can read more about end-to-end encryption and what it cannot protect against in our blogpost on Kaspersky Daily.”

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