Video calls and conferencing is having its moment, with more users than ever using this form of communication to stay in touch with friends, family and for business. Thanks, in no small part, to a global pandemic that has seen social distancing and remote working become commonplace, video calls suddenly became extremely popular as an alternative to the humble voice call. But whilst video calling is becoming the main focus for many, voice calls are still by far the most popular way to communicate especially at work. Even customers agree on the whole with 59% preferring to call because they want a quick answer according to Google’s ‘Click to Call’ research. Integrated Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is expected to reach 204.8 billion corporate consumers in 2020, becoming an essential business tool. Many of the popular communication platforms provide VoIP as well as messaging and video calls, such as WhatsApp and Messenger, with the former also announcing plans to enter the video conferencing market to challenge Zoom and Microsoft Teams by upgrading their desktop app in the coming months. It seems the goal for WhatsApp is to become an all-round platform, but how secure are data protection and privacy on WhatsApp voice call in its current form?
Not content with being the world’s most popular messaging app with 1.5 billion users in 180 countries, WhatsApp added mobile VoIP in March 2015, a year after being acquired by Facebook in the company’s largest acquisition to date. In 2018, WhatsApp Business was launched offering SMEs a way to connect with their customers in real-time, attracting 3 million users. However, soaring usage and popularity attracts cyber criminals looking to take advantage. In May 2019, a vulnerability was discovered that allowed spyware to be added to both IOS and Android devices. This was achieved by using the voice call function, where attackers simply called targets and the malicious code could be transmitted even without a user answering the call. WhatsApp was unable to confirm just how many users were affected by this spyware. When you ask how secure is WhatsApp voice calls, this example doesn’t provide much confidence.
In April this year, the company released a newer version of the app that ensures all voice and video calls, messages and files sent are completely secure and end-to-end encrypted. This is despite the company encrypting messages since 2014, but only recently in light of the spyware issue, rolled E2E encryption across its services. As well as this, it was discovered earlier this year that supposedly private group chats were found by conducting a simple Google search, due to the search engine indexing links to these conversations, meaning anyone could join in. Normally, an invite code would be required to join a group chat, but the unique URL became indexed by Google causing an issue where 470,000 searches provided group chat access. The ‘secured communications’ offered by the platform are clearly far from reality.
For many users, trust becomes a focus and with high profile issues surrounding WhatsApp not just with voice calls, but also messaging and its desktop app, alternatives are being sought. With cyber-criminals setting up phishing websites that look similar to WhatsApp Web, to spammy forwarded messages and third-party apps that can record WhatsApp voice calls, doubts still remain when asking how secure is WhatsApp voice calls. With many alternatives available, the privacy of data especially for those using an integrated platform for business, could not be more important. At RealTyme, voice calls made through our platform are conducted with the highest standard, military-grade AES-256 encryption, ensuring no unauthorized users can intercept them, as are SMS and instant messaging on our encrypted messenger. Organizations can collaborate safely in the knowledge that any voice and video calls, as well as messages and files transferred, are kept completely private and in compliance with data protection.
Benefitting from our Swiss Data neutrality that provides one of the strongest and most comprehensive data protection regimes globally, both end-to-end (E2E) and at-rest encryption includes robust authentication; put simply, only those within your organization that have been authorized can access the information. Unlike WhatsApp that shares data with its parent company Facebook, we do not retain your data at rest nor in transit.