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Is it time for a Home-Grown secure messaging & calling app for India: Whatsapp breach reported in India

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WhatsApp Breach in India: is it time for a Home-Grown secure messaging & calling apps
WhatsApp Breach in India: is it time for a Home-Grown secure messaging & calling apps

In India, we have now changed the outlook towards inter-personal communication to the Form-Factor thrusted upon us by the advent of the Smart-Phone. When we think of communicating among ourselves, we mostly think of sending them a text message or a voice note on WhatsApp. The penetration of WhatsApp among Indian Netiziens has now transformed into an embedded habit.

It is not only the Private Users that use the WhapsApp. but the Business Class in India which seem to be thriving on the use of WhatsApp. One is not surprised now, as to why did Facebook paid a lot of money to acquire this less-known Application, WhatsApp. It is pertinent to mention here, that the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook has only augmented the business of Facebook. It is but obvious, that the cross sharing of data and profile between WhatsApp and Facebook is one of the intent of the company. One can try this out: If a user shares a mobile number or adds a member to a WhatsApp group, you are sure in two to three days time to receive a Facebook profile as a suggestion of the person or of his/her business profile or an advertised Facebook profile as a suggestion on your Facebook page.

Hence Money drives the Apps, or rather ‘There is no free-lunch on the Cyber Space’. India is WhatsApp’s largest market, with 400 million users. But the recent activity has instigated the users in India to venture for alternatives to keep their interests live in terms of secure messaging and calling. The aspect of Privacy is also of concern in India, as of now. The contentious Personal Data Protection Bill,  whose draft was cleared by the Cabinet Committee, is also now under the scanner of public eyes. In the face of staunch opposition and failure to manage requisite number in the Rajya Sabha, the Bill will not be tabled in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament. The matter is now with the Select Committee that has been tasked to obtain public opinion.

The possibility of snooping into WhatsApp Chats and its users has gone adverse against the service provider (Facebook). The vulnerability that was exploited by installation of the Pegasus software to enable the passing of data and controls of one’s smart phone to the external agency has not gone down well among WhatsApp users. In a document released by Pegasus it was mentioned as “Pegasus could be installed using targets’ phone numbers. It can activate targets’ camera and mic to collect data. A person’s phone number is the only requirement to install it. The most common way is through SMS/flash SMS,” Now the vulnerability of the service provider i.e. Facebook, that marketed the WhatsApp Application is now under question. In a an another media report, it was quoted as  “Pegasus could compromise the entire cell data, including that from Skype, Telegram, Viber, SMS, photo, emails, contacts, location, files, browsing the history, besides microphone and camera recordings,” it claims. The Indian Government also was on a questioning-spree when news broke-out on Pegasus spying row on the WhatsApp Application on Indian users in the last week of October 2019.

The Indian Users of WhatsApp, for all the odds and more, have now shunned the dominance and is showing cracks in the trust that it had on the Application. Some reports revel that the users have now started to shift to Apps like Telegram and Signal. Some also questioned as to why Android cannot extend the WhatsApp like feature through the Conventional Messaging App, available in the Android OS of the Smart Phone. Data from the San Francisco-headquartered app analytics firm App Annie, has reported that the Signal App peaking to the 39th position in the social networking app downloads category in India on the iOS app store, up from its 105th position in the first week of November 2019. As also, the Signal App on Google Play store, peaked to 31st position from its 255th position in India, in the same week.

Not only in India but Globally, the scare with ‘WhatsApp’ is not new. Even the Cyber Security Evangelists have been questioning the security and authenticity that comes with WhatsApp. In India the questioning has got accentuated post this episode that happened in the last week of October 2019. Though the other similar Apps are nerd, yet the Indian Users are more inquisitive and is more amenable to trying out new things. Hence we see a drift from WhatsApp in the first week of November 2019 and beyond.

The Time is right to get in a Home-Grown App akin to WhatsApp. The very fact that the present users are gravitating to other Apps, is a time that can be exploited “as the Iron is Hot to receive the Strike”. The other applications like Signal and Telegram have their own advantage. But the motive of migration should be with a Pinch of Salt, as none of these Apps are India based nor do they host their servers in India. The need of the hour is an App that is as convenient as the WhatsApp and with features that is Cyber Secure for all of us:

  • All the utilities and more
  • Not as elusive when compared to WhatsApp
  • Favoring End-to-End Encryption
  • Uphold privacy concerns in India
  • LEA Friendly
  • Having Servers in India
  • Not a Bandwidth Hogger
  • Not a Memory Hogger
  • Allow exchange of texts, voice, images and documents
  • Accept all file formats that is available in common usage
  • Filter malware and malicious codes
  • Backup friendly
  • No Membership restriction of number of users
  • Freeware and Cross-Platform Compatible
  • Cloud Based Options, so that frequent upgrade of Phones is not enforced due to storage restrictions
  • Cyber Security Compliant

Now the question is: Do we have One?….. And here I provide you an Idea to be a Blue…… or Strike an Startup as an Entrepreneur to provide the Desi WhatsApp……….

Now the question is: Do we have One?….. And here I provide you an Idea to be a Blue…… or Strike an Startup as an Entrepreneur to provide the Desi WhatsApp……….

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