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Re: [tlug] Skype or Something Better: Whatsapp

Furkan, you're generally right with most of this. I'll make a few
points, but don't think that I'm trying to detract from your general

On 2017-02-19 15:44 +0900 (Sun), Furkan Mustafa wrote:

> It was still the same problem even before facebook bought whatsapp.
> But now it's an even greater danger/problem, when used together with
> facebook massive data.

My understanding is that WhatsApp still has completely separate
accounts, usable by people who don't even use Facebook or people who
don't want to link their Facebook accounts, so this is somewhat (if
only slightly) mitigated by that. That said, yes, if you use both,
it's quite likely that they've added the ability to cross-correlate
the data even if you try to keep them separate. And even if you don't
use Facebook (as I, amongst I think many others here, don't), Facebook
has a whole infrastructure designed for tracking individuals that it
would be hard to believe they're not turning on Whatsapp. Especially
given that Line and the like are so busy turning themselves into SNSs.

> It says "It's *end-to-end* encryption". And you have *absolutely no
> way* of validating that or maintaining that belief, unless you get
> the sources, compile and run the client software yourself.

Actually, you can do some validation without that, even a good deal of
validation if you're really willing to work at it. That said, yes,
they can be sneaking this stuff in.

And (that said)^2, even fully open-source platforms with no corporate
sponsorship generally tend to rely on algorithms that have been
heavily influenced by state actors, and we've how they from time to
time want to reduce security in obvious ways [Clipper] and methods
that could do so in unobvious ways [NSA-DES] even if in that
particular example it appears to have been the other way around.


> There is the point of this being not just about the "message contents" 
> too.

Yes. This too important just to be a side comment. A lot of these
applications go running through your phone book or contacts lists and
that, in many applications, an entirely destroy the security of the
system. (Certain dictators don't have any need to know the contents of
your messages at all; if they know with whom you're communicating, and
it's the wrong people, you're done.)

> The correct approach should be to never spread conformism and ease
> of use for security....

This, unfortunately, is basically wrong. Ease of use is one of the two
key pillars of any security infrastructure, the other being resistance
to attacks. If important messages are not sent or received due to it
being too hard or even just inconvenient to do so, the communications
system has been successfully disrupted and it just a bit ironic if it
was your own side that disrupted it.

Security is never on or off. It's always, "I'm willing to do this much
work to resist these attacks." This is why, though I welcome
end-to-end encryption in chat programs, I rarely use it myself; the
disruption in communication by not having a shared history of com-
munication across devices (and being able easily and quickly to switch
between devices) is, for most of my communications, not worth it.

It's often instructive to look at examples from other areas of
security. How many of us here have locks on our apartment or house
doors that cannot be opened in a matter of seconds with relatively
trivial amounts of effort?

Curt Sampson         <>         +81 90 7737 2974

To iterate is human, to recurse divine.
    - L Peter Deutsch

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