WhatsApp is one application that is used by everyone in the world for direct texting. This app is a revolution in itself, this means a lot of good things but a lot of dangerous things as well.
What is end-t0-end encryption?
To tackle that, WhatsApp introduced the feature of end-to-end encryption which means that only the sender and the receiver of a particular message will be able to have access to that message and no third party, not even WhatsApp for personal security and privacy. This was a good change in the social networking world until there was news about chat leaks and data recovery through WhatsApp, done by government agencies in the recent sensational suicide case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Why did government agencies try to access and retrieve WhatsApp information?
This suicide case led to an investigation by government agencies and it concluded in a drug angle where the primary suspects were actor’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and his brother. This furthermore ended up in investigating other Bollywood actors where Deepika Padukone’s name is prominently surfaced.
According to speculations and leaked WhatsApp chats which have been allegedly shared by government agency NCB, people are raising questions on WhatsApp seeking a justification on how are government agencies able to access and retrieve deleted chats from WhatsApp despite end-to-end encryption?
What does WhatsApp have to say about its security breach despite end-to-end encryption?
WhatsApp spokesperson commented reassuring that even WhatsApp cannot access and retrieve deleted chats of users with end-to-end encryption.
Another statement issued by a WhatsApp spokesperson said that only the user and the person that you are communicating with can read what is sent and nobody else, any third-party or even WhatsApp cannot read or access those messages.
WhatsApp follows all guidelines and policies provided by Operating System manufacturers regarding on-device (offline) storage options. The company also encourages users to avail full protection provided by Operating systems through high-security passwords, biometrics, face recognition to protect their data stored on WhatsApp.
How did government agencies retrieve deleted chats from WhatsApp?
The crux of the matter is the fact that WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted and no third party other than the sender and the receiver can access that information. However, the WhatsApp chats backup which is taken by users on Google Drive, iCloud or any other cloud storage service is not protected by the end-to-end encryption provided by WhatsApp.
This is the reason why end-to-end encryption did not work when the NCB was accessing WhatsApp chats or retrieving deleted messages.
Furthermore, government agencies have complex software systems specially developed to clone data from one device to another for the purpose of investigation. This is called imaging or cloning which can copy all the data from one device to another so that the government can carry out their investigation.