Tech

Telegram founder criticizes WhatsApp for faulty security measures

Pavel Durov has a few words for WhatsApp but he won't acknowledge criticism about his own messenger.

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WhatsApp has been struggling to impress people with its security infrastructure. In recent news, it was reported that one of the most powerful men on Earth, Jeff Bezos, was allegedly hacked on the messenger app by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018.

Now, rival messenger founder Pavel Durov has some criticism for WhatsApp. The Telegram founder wrote a lengthy diatribe against the app, calling it "dangerous" and possessing a "backdoor that allowed hackers to access all data on any phone running" the messenger.

While these criticisms sound valid, they obscure the problems in Durov's very own messenger platform.

Durov as Nostradamus — In his Telegram blog post, Durov said that he was long aware of the security faults in WhatsApp and informed its owner, Facebook, about these problems. The company "claimed at the time that they had no proof the flaw had ever been used by attackers," he wrote.

In particular, Durov took issue with WhatsApp's "end-to-end encryption" and said that it was a weak security measure. He also added that the security bugs in the messenger app were purposefully applied to work in collaboration with law enforcement figures. Telegram, he claimed, did not have such architecture in place and was subsequently penalized for it in countries like Iran and Russia. On top of that, WhatsApp's feature to load chats in iCloud isn't encrypted and data can be handed to local authorities upon request.

Those who live in glass houses — While Durov has some points, he failed to acknowledge issues within his own messenger. For example, not all Telegram chats are encrypted and many have pointed out that it's not as secure as the company suggests, so Durov's whinging about WhatsApp sounds a dash hypocritical.

In addition to these security issues, there are ethical predicaments, too. Just like WhatsApp has a misinformation problem, Telegram is known to be home to white supremacists, ISIS, and other fascist movements around the world. Perhaps Durov should take stock of his platform before pointing his finger at others.