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Internet services
Since 2009
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WhatsApp Inc. it is created in 2009 in Mountain View, the USA. WhatsApp is a word play from the English combination of What's Up ("How are you doing?")

WhatsApp was created by developers Jan Kum and Brian Ekton. Earlier they worked in total 20 years in Yahoo! company.



Officials are around the world attacked via WhatsApp

At the end of October, 2019 it became known of a large-scale attack of hackers on the high-ranking officials via WhatsApp worldwide. Cybercriminals used vulnerability of the messenger for gaining access to smartphones more than 1.4 thousand users.

According to Reuters  with reference to the sources familiar with investigation, the most part of the victims is made by government and military officials of the countries, the majority of which are allies of the USA. In particular, under blow the Indian journalists, scientists, lawyers and defenders of community of Dalits in India got. Besides, it is about citizens of the USA, the UAE, Bahrain, Mexico, Pakistan.

Learned Reuters about cracking of smartphones of officials in the countries allies of USA
Learned Reuters about cracking of smartphones of officials in the countries allies of USA

In WhatsApp notified affected users on last attack. The company did not begin to reveal names of clients whose accounts were hacked.

Malefactors installed on phones of users the software for shadowing using function of a call. And the malicious code could be transferred even if the person did not answer a call.

The main attack took place during the period from April 29 to May 10, 2019. Who stands behind cracking, the news agency does not know. It is supposed that hackers used the tool developed by the Israeli company NSO Group.

At the end of October, 2019 the administration of WhatsApp submitted a claim to federal court in San Francisco against NSO. In the claim it is told that NSO "developed the malware with the purpose to get access to messages and other communications after they were decrypted" on devices of users. Israelis reject charges, saying that they cooperate only with  state bodies  within investigation of crimes.

WhatsApp assured that already updated protection of a system and released update of the messenger to secure users.[1]

The authorities wanted to make calls to WhatsApp paid

On October 17, 2019 the authorities of Lebanon announced canceling of a so-called "tax on WhatsApp" after mass protests of inhabitants. Read more here.

Edward Snowden does not recommend to officials to use WhatsApp and Telegram

On September 16, 2019 Edward Snowden warned the high-ranking officials against use of WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), these messengers are unsafe. Read more here.

Phishing attack through a premium subscription to music service Spotify

On June 16, 2019 the international anti-virus company ESET announced a phishing attack in the WhatsApp messenger. The annual premium subscription to popular music service Spotify acts as a bait.

The potential victim receives the message with the offer to become the premium subscriber of Spotify. Having followed the link, the user gets on a phishing site with the special questionnaire. The appearance of the portal and its URL address remind the official site of Spotify.

After filling of the questionnaire the victim needs to send the link to "action" to 30 users of WhatsApp from the contact list — allegedly only after that the premium account will be activated.

The questionnaire which requires to be filled out obtaining the premium account

During passing of poll the user sees pop-up windows with warning of system infection. For blocking of threat it is required to press the Accept button, to pass into Google Play and to install the application which in practice is the program for advertizing demonstration.

Message forgery about system infection

As experts of ESET believe, the harmful campaign is directed mainly to inhabitants of Latin America.

Before ESET recorded a phishing attack where an opportunity to change color of the interface of the WhatsApp messenger acted as a bait. Use of similar instruments of the attack suggest that the same malefactors are involved in both campaigns.

Recommendations of ESET:

  • you do not follow the suspicious links even if they are sent by friends;
  • check information on profitable actions on the official sites of services, pay attention to the URL addresses;
  • study number of loadings, responses, ratings before downloading of the program from app stores;
  • use a reliable antivirus with functions of an anti-phishing and antispam.

The antispam of WhatsApp can be disconnected for $14. Politicians send on 100 thousand messages a day

In the middle of May, 2019 it became known that the software tools WhatsApp for only $14 help the Indian marketing specialists and political activists to bypass the anti-spam restrictions set by the messenger.

WhatsApp repeatedly faced a problem of abuse of the messenger in India – the largest market of the company about more than 200 million users. Due to elections which should come to the end in India on May 19, 2019 this problem rose even more sharply.

The software tools WhatsApp for only $14 help the Indian marketing specialists and political activists to bypass the anti-spam restrictions set by the messenger.
The software tools WhatsApp for only $14 help the Indian marketing specialists and political activists to bypass the anti-spam restrictions set by the messenger.

Earlier the WhatsApp service introduced tight restrictions on transfer of messages – it is possible to send information only to 20 chats at the same time, instead of 250 as was early. However software tools easily overcome these restrictions, allowing users to work with thousands of people at the same time. Rohitash Repswal said that it managed several months work of software worth 1,000 rupees ($14) which sent on behalf of one of political parties of India up to 100,000 messages of WhatsApp a day.

It became clear that within the political campaigns WhatsApp it was used by at least three methods. Some members of batches applied free online applications to creation of fake accounts manually to send the mass of messages. Others used software tools which allow users to automate delivery of messages of WhatsApp. And some firms suggested politicians to carry out bulk mailing of messages to WhatsApp from anonymous numbers, using special websites.

The modified versions of such popular applications became an everyday occurrence thanks to technically grounded fans. On the Indian Amazon website well to at least three similar software tools. They are delivered in the form of compact disks without any markings and names.[2]


Facebook will develop cryptocurrency for transfers via WhatsApp

Facebook works on creation of cryptocurrency which will allow users to transfer money through the WhatsApp application belonging to the company, Bloomberg with reference to the informed sources[3] reports in December, 2018].

According to the agency, the rate of new cryptocurrency will be tied to the US dollar exchange rate (such digital currencies whose volatility is lower, than at normal cryptocurrencies, call stablecoin), however Facebook should not expect it emergence in the nearest future: So far studies project parts.

Making the decision on start of own cryptocurrency, Facebook is guided first of all by the market of money transfers of India, interlocutors of Bloomberg told. In this country the WhatsApp messenger belonging to Facebook uses more than 200 million people. Besides, India — the leader in volumes of money transfers, in 2017 users from around the world transferred $69 billion to this country, Bloomberg with reference to data of the World Bank notes.

Vulnerability to side channel attacks

According to the message of December 13, 2018 researchers from Cisco Talos announced vulnerabilities in the popular messengers using enciphering. According to specialists, WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal it is possible to crack using side channel attacks. Read more here.

Emergence of advertizing

At the beginning of November, 2018 it became known of emergence in WhatsApp of advertizing. The vice president of the company Chris Daniels told about monetization of service.

According to him, advertizing will appear in the section Status — an analog of the Storis function in Instagram and Snapchat. Photos, videos and the animated GIF images in this section disappear in 24 hours after the publication.

It will become the main model of monetization for the company and also will give the chance to the companies to contact to people in WhatsApp — Daniels said. 

WhatsApp developers are going to monetize the application by advertizing in the statuses
WhatsApp developers are going to monetize the application by advertizing in the statuses

The former management of WhatsApp was categorically against advertizing in the messenger as because of it as considered in the company, the command spends many forces for collecting of personal data, and users distract from affairs. Cofounders of WhatsApp left Facebook because of disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg concerning advertizing.

The co-founder of WhatsApp Brian Ekton  said that top managers of Facebook pressed on it in issues of monetization: for example, suggested to think up a method how to sell analytics of audience of WhatsApp. According to Ekton, Facebook tried to monetize WhatsApp even before purchase of service in 2014 for $19.3 billion.

Facebook was also going to create tools for business on the basis of these users of WhatsApp. In particular, for analytics and targeted advertizing. WhatsApp encryption system became a noise. The management of the messenger tried to save the ciphered environment.

By the beginning of November, 2018 the audience of WhatsApp makes about 1.5 billion people worldwide. About 450 million users use the Statuses function.[4]

In October, 2018 announced the Silicon portal that the WhatsApp messenger will begin to show to users targeted advertizing. On its information, advertizing messages can appear in  an upper part of the interface, since 2019.

The cofounder of WhatsApp told about the reasons of leaving Facebook

On September 26, 2018 Brian Ekton in a conversation with the journalist of Forbes told about the reasons the reasons of the leaving Facebook. This first interview of the cofounder of WhatsApp after dismissal. The different view of Ekton and management of Facebook on the advertizing policy of the company became a stumbling block, according to him. Read more here.

Cofounders of WhatsApp refused $1.3 billion before leaving Facebook

In June, 2018 it became known that founders of WhatsApp Jan Kum (Jan Koum) and Brian Acton left Facebook, having refused remuneration in the amount of $1.3 billion. Details of the conflict with the founder and the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg are given by the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) edition with reference to the informed sources.

According to them, conditions of labor contracts provided that Jan Kum and Brian Ekton should finish in Facebook till November, 2018, and otherwise they lose payment of actions. Kum left the company in May, 2018 and Ekton lost $400 million left Facebook in September, 2017 and did not get thereby about $900 million.

Jan Kum
Jan Kum

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, and in the 2016th the conflict between cofounders of the messenger and Mark Zuckerberg began. The matter is that Qom and Acton, being supporters of confidentiality, were dissatisfied with a business model of Facebook constructed on advertizing sale. In particular, the discontent was directed to the following: Supported as Facebook using information which users, for further demonstration of targeted advertisements by it exchange.

Mark Zuckerberg assured founders of WhatsApp that the company is not going to place advertizing in the messenger. In their contract there was a separate point from which followed that Qom and Ekton can leave and earn all put rewards in the form of stocks of Facebook before term if the company insists on "additional initiatives in the field of monetization". Facebook complained about too small earnings in WhatsApp and the fact that creators of WhatsApp delayed decision making about introduction in the messenger of new features which could help monetization of service.

One of interlocutors of WSJ described the atmosphere in the company as "very passive and aggressive". Non-management employees clashed too: according to sources, those who worked in Facebook did not suit that their new colleagues use privileges, such as big tables or comfortable bathrooms. Besides, meeting rooms of WhatsApp were unavailable to the staff of Facebook.

The godfather flew into a rage, so far as concerned job requirements in the big company. Sometimes he quarreled with Zuckerberg and other heads on trifles, for example, because of chairs which Facebook wanted to redeem from WhatsApp — notes the source of WSJ familiar with a situation.

In January, 2017 the WhatsApp command from 200 people moved from Mountain View to Facebook headquarters to Menlo Park. Some employees of the messenger were irritated by a noisy campus of Facebook with a set of restaurants and shops. They even pasted over office with the posters "Please, Save the Noise Floor". After that the staff of Facebook thought up a comic phrase of Welcome to WhatsApp — Shut up! ("Welcome to WhatsApp — shut up!").

Nevertheless, as told sources of WSJ, founders of WhatsApp did not get into open conflict with Zuckerberg and decided that they are interested in preserving of the normal relations with the management of Facebook.

After Jan Kum and Brian Ekton left Facebook, one of top managers of social network Chris Daniels began to direct WhatsApp service. According to WSJ, the task of search of the business model allowing to increase income to the level which would correspond to the amount paid Facebook for the messenger was set for the new head of WhatsApp. At the same time Daniels should not cause damage to functionality of WhatsApp which do service popular among 1.5 billion users. [5]

To teenagers in the EU closed access to WhatsApp

On April 25, 2018 there was information that inhabitants of the European Union will be able to use the WhatsApp messenger only on reaching 16-year age. Such rule is introduced in conditions of provision of services and privacy policy of the application.

The General regulations on data protection (GDPR — General Data Protection Regulation) which become effective in the EU in May became the reason of restrictions. The regulations will grant to inhabitants of the European Union the right to know what data store about them the companies. Personal data of persons which were not 16 years old yet can be collected, to store and process only with the permission of their parents or trustees.

You will have an opportunity to download and browse that limited information which we collect. This option will be available to all our users worldwide in the latest version of the application, says in the blog WhatsApp.

Meanwhile, users from other regions of the world can use the messenger from 13 years if it is authorized it is authorized the local legislation.

At the same time how check of age of the registered or already acting users will be performed, in WhatsApp did not explain.

The guide to a request of personal data which are stored about users by the company was also published in the blog WhatsApp. Within three days from the moment of sending a request the user will be able to obtain information in the form of the HTML-file packed into zip-archive. The file will contain a profile photo, names in group chats and other data, except the history of correspondence. The user then will be able to request removal of the personal data from servers of the company, however, most likely, this option will be available only to inhabitants of the European Union.[6]

Drug dealers were caught on a fingerprint in WhatsApp

In April 20118 years became known of detention of drug dealers thanks to the photo of a fingerprint from the WhatsApp messenger.

The British police delayed the 28-year-old man by the name of Elliot on suspicion of trade in narcotic substances. Police officers analyzed correspondence of the detainee in  WhatsApp and  found the suspicious photo there. In the picture somebody held on the opened tablet palm, the signature said: "What do you want to purchase?".

By means of new technology law enforcement agencies carried out recognition of fingerprints according to the photo which was used by criminals as advertizing at sale of drugs. Then in the house of the drug dealer carried out a search which allowed to detect a cannabis plantation.

The British police caught the drug dealer on a fingerprint in WhatsApp
The British police caught the drug dealer on a fingerprint in WhatsApp

At first law enforcement officers contacted spouses  Darren  and  Dominique Morris. However their fingerprints did not match the image on a photo. Then police officers decided to check them the 28-year-old son by the name of  Elliot. It became clear that he grows up hemp and controls a flow of drugs. His palm was also represented in the picture.

As a result it was succeeded to expose big criminal grouping and to arrest 11 people. Charges in sales of drugs are brought to them. Sentenced Elliot to 8.5 years of imprisonment.

According to the representative of police of the Southern Wales Dave Thomas, for the first time in Britain law enforcement authorities applied a possibility of fingerprint recognition according to the photo. It indicates the potential of use of pictures from social networks as proofs and also for detection of offenses, he noted.

Drug dealers apply technologies not to get, and we need to go in step with achievements — Dave Thomas whose words are cited by BBC reported.[7]

If the partial image of the fingerprint taken from the photo with low resolution — all this that is required to make arrest, in Wales there are crowded halls of court sessions, notes the Gizmodo edition.


The French regulator prohibited WhatsApp to share data on users with Facebook

The French organization for privacy protection of data of CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés) obliged[8] stop data transmission of users of parent company Facebook. According to the statement published on the website of the organization, service month on fulfillment of requirements[9] is provided[10].

The matter was for the first time brought up last year after WhatsApp added to the user agreement point about data exchange with Facebook for development of target advertizing, security and collection of information for a business intelligence.

According to the statement of CNIL if intention of WhatsApp to improve security measures can be considered reasonable, then data collection for a business intelligence causes a number of claims. In particular, WhatsApp does not notify users on data collection and this function cannot be turned off. "It breaks fundamental freedoms of users", - noted in CNIL.

Blocking in China

On September 25, 2017 it became known of blocking of WhatsApp in China. It is the next step of Beijing on gain of online shadowing in the run-up to the meeting of the Communist Party.

According to the The New York Times newspaper (NYT), from the middle of July, 2017 for many users of WhatsApp in Celestial Empire stopped being some functions of the application, including video chats and sending files are available.

Great Chinese fayervol reached WhatsApp: service is blocked in the country
Great Chinese fayervol reached WhatsApp: service is blocked in the country

The specialist in Internet communications of the University of Hong Kong Lokman Tsui told the edition that serious problems in work of WhatsApp began on Sunday, September 24. Next day in WhatsApp the possibility of sending messages to the Chinese users was blocked. At the same time Lokman Tsui noted that there is a probability that some users can still use the messenger.

According to the specialist in cryptography of the French research company Symbolic Software Nadim Kobeissi, blocking of text messages of WhatsApp can demonstrate that the Chinese censors developed the special software which could cope with the technology of data encryption used by the messenger. 

The similar method of blocking usually is not used by the authorities of the People's Republic of China — the expert noted.

WhatsApp remained the last service Facebook which remained available in continental China. The social network was blocked in the country in 2009.  The same fate comprehended also a photohosting of Instagram.

NYT notes that gain of censorship became especially noticeable before the XIX congress of the Communist Party of China which is planned for October 18, 2017. In the country access to social networks, uncontrollable by the government is blocked. The majority is forced to use the WeChat messenger which officially transfers to the authorities personal data of users.

Since 2003 in China the Gold Board system (in the west of it call "A great Chinese fayervol"), which filters access for users to the websites and Internet services works. Pages with antistate or "sensitive" materials and also uncontrollable by the government of the People's Republic of China social networks and content connected with gamblings usually are subject to blocking.[11]

WhatsApp does not protect users from the state

Electronic Frontier Foundation studied work of 26 Internet companies: as they cooperate with state bodies and what data provide. WhatsApp received the lowest mark.

The EFF organization is engaged in protection of the "electronic" rights of citizens. Annually she estimates work of the largest Internet companies and makes some kind of anti-rating: who most worse protects the clients from the state. By drawing up the last rating they studied activity of 26 companies for 2016.

According to the results of a research: the companies Adobe Dropbox, Lyft, Wordpress also Uber follow all rules of protection of users against illegal access to personal data, reports RBC.

The WhatsApp messenger got only two points from five possible. The company does not inform users on cooperation with the state and does not guarantee protection against data access.

Experts estimate the companies by several criteria: transparency of cooperation of the company and state; prohibition on transfer of personal data to the third parties; check of legality of confidential requests from intelligence agencies of the USA and other indicators. In total the company can receive up to five points.

The European Commission fined Facebook 110 million euros

The European Commission found Facebook guilty in information hiding during purchase of the WhatsApp messenger in 2014 and[12] imposed on social network a fine of 110 million euros[13].

In 2014, said in the solution of the regulator, Facebook specified in documents for approval of the transaction on purchase of WhatsApp that will automatically not integrate accounts of users of social networks and the messenger. However two years later after purchase it was made.

Facebook threatened a penalty at the rate to 1 percent from an annual turnover — to 276 million dollars, proceeding from the reporting of the company for 2016. However the social network actively cooperated with the regulator, and the size of a penalty was reduced, the European Commission announced.

The European Commission called a fine of 110 million euros "proportional".

2014: The company was purchased by Facebook

On February 19, 2014 Facebook announced acquisition of WhatsApp paid $4 billion for $19 billion Facebook in cash and transferred own actions to the amount ~ $12 billion[14].

The agreement provides share transfer with restrictions for the amount of $3 billion to founders and employees of WhatsApp within 4 years after closing of the transaction.

In the first half of the year 2014 revenue of service made $15 million, a loss – $232.5 million.

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