How Far Can You Trust Your Favourite Messaging Apps?

Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram and SnapChat not only make communication easy for us but are also great platforms for information and file sharing.

Their popularity, however, means more and more data is passing through them every second.

What this means is that there are certain risks to the information dear to you on your favourite messaging apps. No one, of course, would want their confidential data to fall in any unwarranted hands. It is, therefore, better to understand these threats to guard yourself sufficiently against them.

Most Common Vulnerabilities of Messaging Apps

While some of these weaknesses in apps result from coding deficiencies, sloppy usage is the cause of others. Let’s dive into details.

Insecure Data Storage

The most vulnerable data is incorrectly secured data. Make sure your data security is layered and password protected.

Broken Cryptography

Unprofessional certificate validation or bad encryption means any data exchange over a server can be easily accessed or modified by unauthorised parties.

Lack of Binary Protection

Use of insecure measures such as decrypting, reverse engineering and unmodified application code can cause disclosure of sensitive data and unauthorised access to it.

Data Leakage

Data can leak from application caches if your mobile is improperly locked, stolen, or faces application weaknesses such as inadequate application or server configuration.

Poor Authentication and Authorisation

Improper offline authentication mode of mobile messaging apps allows malicious actors to get access to the sensitive information and backend server of the app.

Poor Account Session Logout

Session expiration on mobiles usually takes longer than the desktops. Therefore, due to insufficient or poor session log-out, any other user or third party, unbeknownst to you, can easily access your account.

Ensuring Security of Messaging Apps

The responsibility to make users’ data secure rests on the shoulders of both, the developer and the user. Below is explained how.

As a User

Always go for apps that provide end-to-end encryption (E2EE). You can typically find this information in the about sections of the apps, or their privacy policy pages. E2EE only allows the sender and recipient to have access to the shared information and no one else.

However, E2EE doesn’t necessarily give you the power to control your data. What does is the classic message deletion. It is simple, delete the messages that you deem sensitive once they have served their purpose. A lot of apps now even allow you to delete your messages from the recipients’ end too.

As a Developer

You and your work are the primary line of defence for your user in terms of data protection. Therefore, always go for code obfuscation where you make your code as difficult to read as possible. ProGurad, ModiFly, Obfuscar, JavaScript Obfuscator are some of the tools you can use in this regard.

Similarly, a function called Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) ensures safe and secured communication over the server. That, along with the use of cryptographic protocols, i.e., Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) can validate a server’s identity and ensure the authenticity of the communication. Bring them into your basic practice.

Lastly, test your apps for any shortcomings that may come in handy for hackers. Do this repeatedly in the app development stage, post-development, and even after the launch. Make sure that your apps are compliant with the most current security trends.

Besides all of this, always ensure that your messaging apps are updated regularly and contain less metadata storage, strong passwords, and two-factor authentication to beat out any malicious attempt on them.