Before we delve into the details of whether a spying application can truly monitor WhatsApp messages remotely, an explanation is required on how WhatsApp encrypts messages.
WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption meaning that the information you share is only accessible to the receiver. Third parties, including folks at WhatsApp, governments or security agencies, can’t read WhatsApp messages or eavesdrop on WhatsApp calls.
The encryption on WhatsApp is enabled all the time. There is no way that a user can disable it.
WhatsApp assigns a security code to each chat on the application. A security code is unique and only accessible to the parties involved, that is, the QR code or the 60-digit number is only available to the particular chat. No other chats will have the same security code.
Not only are your chats encrypted, but WhatsApp calls that you make are encrypted as well. To check if your WhatsApp chats are encrypted, you could go through this article here.
But are WhatsApp messages truly secure?
An encryption key is available to the sender and the receiver of a message on WhatsApp. This key is unique and no other individual has access to it. As long as the message is encrypted, your messages are secure. But as with every piece of software, there are loopholes.
Issues with Facebook’s user privacy in the Cambridge Analytica case brought forth concerns whether WhatsApp was confidential regarding its users’ information. Since WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, this concern has legitimacy. However, Facebook CEO, during a Congressional hearing maintained that Facebook does not have access to WhatsApp users’ chats. In this article by Gregorio Zanon, the author explains the potential of how Facebook could monitor WhatsApp messages remotely.
Though it is impossible for Facebook to directly monitor WhatsApp messages, through a workaround Facebook, or any application for that matter, can gain access to WhatsApp messages.
The article gives an in-depth explanation of how other platforms may be monitoring WhatsApp messages remotely, without the user’s knowledge. According to the article, shared containers between applications allow WhatsApp messages to be accessed by third parties.
Here’s a logical explanation:
The initial versions of iOS only allowed applications to access data in their own containers. But this was counterproductive because files between applications could not be transferred. This feature called “sandboxing” ensured security, but was impractical because it was inefficient.
However, later versions of iOS allow applications to access data from other applications through shared containers.
This is one way that other applications on your phone may be able to access data.
Can Spying Applications monitor WhatsApp messages?
On one hand, we have WhatsApp claiming that no third party can intercept and decrypt messages since only the sender and the receive holds a unique encryption key. On the other hand, we have spying applications, also known as monitoring applications, claiming that they can retrieve and monitor WhatsApp messages remotely.
So, are the claims by monitoring applications true or not?
Turns out, WhatsApp Web, a web-based application designed by WhatsApp is the method by which spying applications allow third parties to read messages on a phone. With this, people can monitor WhatsApp messages remotely without the involved party knowing about it.
Secondly, you need to have the phone in your possession to read messages. Using WhatsApp Web, one can either read messages on the computer or on their phone.
On a computer, you can open WhatsApp Web in a browser and sync your phone to the web-based application using the QR code. Once done, you can read messages on your computer without the phone.
Another way is to open the browser on your phone and following the steps as highlighted above. Using these simple steps, an individual can easily monitor WhatsApp messages.
Many spying applications claim that they can monitor WhatsApp messages without getting hold of the phone. In the case of some versions of iOS, you can. Since data is backed up on iCloud, if you have the credentials on iCloud, one can easily read WhatsApp messages that are backed up on the platform without touching the phone. However, for Android phones, this is not possible.
So this claim is not entirely true!
If monitoring applications make use of WhatsApp Web, then one can truly monitor WhatsApp messages remotely.
The Ethical Dilemma!
There is an ongoing debate among Government and law enforcement agencies whether WhatsApp messages should be monitored remotely or not. It makes one wonder if WhatsApp monitoring applications can truly aid Security Agencies to keep citizens safe at the cost of maintaining privacy.
This dilemma hits home in the case of Khalid Masood, the attacker involved in the Westminster Terror Attacks, who used WhatsApp prior to this incident.
Whatever way the argument skews, one thing is for sure: Your digital presence leaves a footprint no matter how secure it is made out to be! Spying Applications can monitor your online activity without you even knowing about it.