Cyber-security is often a game of cat and mouse with two most important research pertaining to two major directions in cryptology – breaking the available security and devising more efficient security. Among these, the security of messaging apps becomes more critical because the data that exchange hands over these apps are personal in nature with the users barely registering the after-effects in case the information gets leaked or the platform gets hacked. Hence while there is constant innovation being done on the security protocols of the software, the worry is ignorance of the users on how the leakage is happening.
As famously stated by David Kennedy, Founder of TrustedSec, “By some estimates, cybercrime is expected to globally cost upto $6 trillion annually. Losses of this scale put the incentives for innovation and investment at risk and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combines.” This single statement shows both the vulnerability and the cost attached to cybersecurity including messaging apps. And as the world is this worried, obviously, only encryption is not working.
With all of their security-minded features, like disappearing messages and identity-confirming safety numbers, secure chat apps can rightfully give one peace of mind. However, as the adage goes, though, there’s no such thing as perfect security. And feeling invincible could get the users in trouble. They should definitely keep a track of what kind of video or bank information that people are sharing over any kind of platform.
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With end-to-end encryption transforms messages into unintelligible chunks of data as soon as a user presses send, the message isn’t reconstituted into something understandable until it reaches the receiver’s device. Along the way, the message is unreadable, protected from prying eyes. It essentially amounts to a bodyguard-like activity that will ride all the way and deliver exactly at the doorstep of the recipient. While the journey is generally safe during the transport, the vigilance shouldn’t end there. Even when a service works perfectly factors like where messages are stored, who else has received them, and who else has access to devices that contain them play an important role in the users’ security. If one is using encrypted chat apps as one tool in your privacy and security toolbox, he is relevantly safer than the user relying on it as a panacea.
Global studies like The Cyber 2025 Model predicts that there will be 4.7 billion Internet users in 2025, with half of them emerging out of emerging economies like India. Thus, it is easier to say, rather than protect the security of so many users—the only option remaining is to increase knowledge. In the Covid 19 era, when every smallest economic act is government by interface over the internet, it needs to become a policy prescription from authorities to train the people on sustainable net usage.
As the newer, emerging messaging apps have started boasting about encryption features like preventing others from sharing and forwarding your messages, it is important that policy prescriptions become clearer in a country with a billion users. With the number of smartphone users in India estimated to reach over 760 million in 2021 and most of the influx coming from rural India, without proactive and pre-emptive cyber laws it will become difficult to address the most expected crime- Cybercrimes. Chatting, social networking, gaming, and video streaming are some of the preferred activities on smartphones, and consumers give access to multiple data while downloading and using these platforms.
Vulnerability can only be reduced in two ways:
1) Education and awareness building
2) Strong policy
The balancing act between the two options will be possible only when every stakeholder – the government, the software developers, the users, the tech giants, and every platform using these platforms work hand in hand to bring the users up to date with the fallacies of the internet. Like everything good, there is always a dark side of most useful things and responsible usage and service providers are the only answer to avoid getting busted by a hacker.
This article has been written by Rajat Singhania founder of SocioRAC, HyLyt.