Cybersecurity experts warn that free text messaging applications for smart phones, such as WhatsApp and WeChat, pose a threat to the country’s national security apart from compromising an individual user’s data.
When users download these apps on their phones, they agree to a host of conditions that essentially enable the companies to access a majority of the users’ phone data, including their conversations, contacts, etc. Since the companies’ servers are on foreign shores, sensitive data or information can well be compromised.
WeChat is backed by a Chinese internet company called Tencent, which also runs huge Chinese portals such as QQ. Since western social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are banned in China, because their openness could make them fertile rally-points for political dissidence, most of Tencent’s sites have taken over similar functions:
- a full-scale social network (QQ)
- a micro-blogging site (Weibo)
- aP2P sales and collaboration site (PaiPai).
According to a couple of young researchers, Jiten Jain and Abhay Agarwal, the free messaging app doesn’t employ the best of encryption and security technologies, which leaves personal information of its users vulnerable to theft.
To prove their point the researchers went onto demonstrate the ease with which the messages sent using WeChat can be decrypted, indirectly indicating that foreign governments could be doing the same thing for spying and surveillance purposes.