Blog

Why are IM-messengers so unsecure? Part 2

How can e-criminals get inside our messengers and what can they steal?
25 February 2016
Cybersecurity testing
The article by a1qa
a1qa

The research of Electronic Frontier Foundation ascertained that only eight IM-messengers were corresponding to all types of security. How can e-criminals get inside our messengers and what can they steal? And more importantly, is there a way application security testing can stop cybercriminals from doing that?

Scripts are not remedy

All five applications (WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts) encrypt the network traffic to protect users’ information from interception and modification. Although it’s vital for users’ security this type of protection is quite new.

For a long time, it was common to send images, locations, and links to files freely with no protection at all. But little by little as the applications were spreading within more people they capture the attention of information security specialists. They were finding vulnerabilities and then publishing them in open sources. That pushed developers to start fixing bugs.

If the application has an encrypted code, it still cannot ensure absolute security. Any profile can be hacked and spammed. The reason for insecurity can be simply explained: all applications are made by humans, and if at least one developer made a tiny mistake, the whole application might stay insecure.

Thus a potential criminal almost always has a chance to steal users’ data or disable applications using vulnerabilities developers and testers omitted. Those vulnerabilities can come up on the stage of entering the message. The thing is that even if the message is formed correctly it still may allow doing a random command or denial of service. In this case, personal data can be sold to a third party. The most harmless way to use stolen data is spamming those users with targeting ads. But if a denial of service is happening users will lose access to the application.

All five famous applications described in this article were proved to have at least one security flaw. Are there any flawless IM-messengers? According to EFF, the following IM-messengers correspond to all security requirements:

  • CryptoCat
  • Signal / RedPhone
  • Silent Text
  • Silent Phone
  • Telegram (secret chats)
  • Off-The-Record Messaging for Windows (Pidgin)
  • TextSecure
  • ChatSecure + Orbot

Unsecured by default

Many users are interested in whether the owners’ IM-clients have access to their private messages and files transferred. According to EFF all five applications compared in this article are not encrypted so the provider can read them. Even Blackberry Messenger which was considered to be well-protected one turned out to be vulnerable.

Facebook Messenger can, however, collect and use your data for advertising purposes. Some would consider this to be ‘spying’ on you, but not in the way that many reports are suggesting.

Going further, Google Hangouts doesn’t support off-the-record (OTR) encryption, which provides a secure, end-to-end connection between users. Using OTR encryption, no one can read your messages – not even your Internet service provider. But no Google service supports OTR encryption, and many privacy advocates, like the EFF, say they should.

Moreover, some applications are not just encrypted but allow bosses to watch their employee chats if they are registered in the special app. It can be said about Slack. Being oriented on corporate communication it allows bosses not just to watch, but even to correct both business and private chats.

As we can see from the EFF rating, the most popular applications remain insecure. At the same time, the applications developed by amateurs and not well known were found to have a high level of security. Anyway, it’s always up to a user which application to choose, a popular and unsecured or secured but little-known one.

More Posts

qa-trends-in-telecom
30 September 2022,
by a1qa
5 min read
4 telecom trends for 2023 and how to painlessly implement them with QA
It’s time to explore the telecom trends for the upcoming year. Let’s look at them together and also see the value that QA brings for their smooth deployment.
Cybersecurity testing
Migration testing
QA trends
Quality assurance
Test automation
black-friday
29 July 2022,
by a1qa
4 min read
Get ready for Black-Friday-to-Cyber-Monday shopping: 5 testing types to include in your QA strategy
What’s your nightmare during Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping? If it’s a loss of sales, read about the ways to prevent this in the article.
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
Localization testing
Performance testing
Usability testing
30 June 2022,
by a1qa
4 min read
App software testing for telecom: What are the common issues telco providers face?
Facing problems with the quality of your telecom software products? Read more in the article and find out the ways to address them.
Cybersecurity testing
Performance testing
Test automation
20 June 2022,
by a1qa
5 min read
Top-quality IoT solutions: 3 problems and ways to solve them
What quality aspects of IoT solutions are predominant to care about and why? Find the answers in the article.
Cybersecurity testing
IoT testing
Performance testing
Mobile app testing
31 May 2022,
by a1qa
4 min read
Mobile app testing guide: win the race with five-star software
Which aspects of mobile apps to test first to produce a really high-quality product? Find the answer to this and other questions related to mobile app testing in the article.
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
Mobile app testing
Performance testing
Test automation
Usability testing
19 April 2022,
by a1qa
5 min read
What prevents companies from boosting eCommerce customer experience: 4 common mistakes
Dreaming of a flawless online shopping journey for your users? Explore 4 widespread situations that hamper achieving this goal.
Cybersecurity testing
Performance testing
Test automation
Usability testing
Clutch awards
23 March 2022,
by a1qa
2 min read
a1qa recognized for cybersecurity expertise by Clutch!
The global online review platform Clutch added a1qa to the Top 15 Penetration Testing Companies for 2022.
Cybersecurity testing
Mobile app security
3 January 2022,
by a1qa
4 min read
Cybersecurity testing: 4 best practices to ensure highly safe IT solutions
Find out 4 cybersecurity tips to release highly secure software and protect end-user data.
Cybersecurity testing
Mobile app testing
streaming services
30 November 2021,
by a1qa
4 min read
Ho ho ho! QA to enable crash-proof streaming platforms for Holidays season
Isn’t it high time to forget about the Christmas rush and truly enjoy the pre-holidays season? Read the article about how to put peak-load anxiety behind by applying rigorous testing of your streaming solution.
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
Performance testing
Usability testing

Get in touch

Please fill in the required field.
Email address seems invalid.
Please fill in the required field.
We use cookies on our website to improve its functionality and to enhance your user experience. We also use cookies for analytics. If you continue to browse this website, we will assume you agree that we can place cookies on your device. For more details, please read our Privacy and Cookies Policy.