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WhatsApp Launches New Promo Campaign Highlighting the Value of Encryption

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WhatsApp Launches New Promo Campaign Highlighting the Value of Encryption


Amid ongoing scrutiny over parent company Meta’s plan to implement full encryption by default across all of its messaging apps, WhatsApp has launched a new promotional campaign which aims to drum home the importance of privacy for users, with an exaggerated example of how your unprotected messages can be accessed.

As you can see, WhatsApp’s new ad campaign equates the lack of security around SMS text messaging to people being able to read your physical mail. Which is a bit of a stretch, but the emphasis has some merit. You wouldn’t want people reading your letters, yet certain third-party providers can intercept text messages, which, in some ways, is similar.

Though it’s interesting timing. Right now, Meta is in the midst of integrating all of its messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct) into one platform, which would enable you to access your inbox from any of these apps on the other, and carry on conversations with friends across each.

A bi-product of that is that each of its messaging options now has to upgrade to full encryption, as offered by WhatsApp, in order to facilitate equally secure messaging across each surface.

Government representatives and law enforcement groups in almost every country have raised concerns about this shift, which they believe will limit the capacity of criminal investigations. If there’s no way of anyone being able to trace or access these types of exchanges, either internally or externally, that, essentially, would give free, undetectable reign to criminal organizations, enabling them to utilize Meta’s massive network to organize, mobilize and exchange illegal material, without fear of consequence.

The counter to this concern is the rising push to give users more rights to control their privacy and their personal data online.

The European Union has spent years implementing advanced privacy laws to protect people’s digital data, while a recent report from the UK Information Commissioner found that encrypting communications actually strengthens online safety by reducing people’s exposure to threats, like blackmail, while also allowing businesses to share private exchanges.

And there is clearly a desire for more privacy from consumers. WhatsApp already has over 2 billion users, and is seeing steady growth in the US, as discussions around online privacy become more prominent.

But that could also be a result of more groups switching to private messaging to avoid detection. Last August, Meta moved to ban WhatsApp users linked to the Taliban under its Dangerous Organizations policy, so there is still seemingly some recourse for the most extreme examples of such, where they can be detected.

But full encryption would significantly limit that process.

Is that a good thing, in that it offers more protection for users, or a bad thing, in that it could facilitate criminal activity?

Either way, it seems like Meta is pushing ahead, and while Government groups look to scare the public into opposing full encryption (the UK Government’s recent proposed campaign was pretty horrifying), it may be that amid all the discussion around polarization and purported manipulation by the mainstream media that more people actually want to secure their conversations from any type of outside interference.

This new push from WhatsApp will certainly stoke those fires even more, and it’ll be interesting to see if it results in an increase in WhatsApp take-up as a result.





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Pig butchering and the other peculiar cyber-scams on the rise

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Pig butchering and the other peculiar cyber-scams on the rise

Pointing to a computer screen. Image by Tim Sandle.

The countdown to holiday period shopping is on. While sales are up, so are risks. Barclay’s estimate a 70 percent increase in scams the last year. Hence, consumers need to be even more vigilant with the deals they’re seeking out and the websites they are purchasing from.

To help Digital Journal  readers be more mindful as to the key risk factors, James Walker, CEO at Rightly, explains the main issues. This includes an uptick in recent ‘brushing scams’ and fake reviews, as well as further details around other types of scams to watch out for.

Walker sees this period of time as providing ample situations for “Fraudsters to take advantage of innocent consumers. There are multiple tactics scammers use to convince people to part with their money, particularly in the run-up to a day which promises huge savings. One scam in particular we’ve been seeing an increase in is the so-called brushing scam in the lead up to the festive season, which involves unsuspecting people receiving unsolicited deliveries.”

Expanding on the strange deliveries, Walker says: “If you receive an unexpected package, it may be a scam that online sellers use to falsely inflate ratings and post fake reviews, and may mean your personal data has been compromised. If you have received an unexpected package from a company such as Amazon and suspect it to be a brushing scam, contact customer support directly. They can tell you whether your real account has been compromised and will cancel the fake account. The same goes for other marketplaces like eBay.”

Expanding on this tactic, Walker explains: “Unfortunately, such scams have also led to significant increase in fake reviews on Amazon, with an estimated 61 percent of all reviews classified as fake as fraudulent sellers try to manipulate buyers into making a purchase. Always be cautious when buying online and do as much background research as possible on a company or product before buying anything.”

Among the most prevalent scams, Walker cites:

Social media scams

This is where scammers take over your social profile, gaining access to influence your friends and family. But this is only the start of taking over someone’s life, this can lead to the opening of bank accounts and creating fake identities in your name.

Burner businesses

This is when scammers buy a company for a reasonable amount and appear to trade, genuinely selling goods and services. They build up lots of sales, and then when the time is right, they move the money out and close down the business, leaving people out of pocket and either with fake goods or none at all.

Tickets to events

With the football World Cup taking place, it’s not too surprising to see that ticket scams are on the rise. Ticket selling scams happen when a scammer uses tickets as bait to steal your money. The scammer usually sells fake tickets, or you pay for a ticket, but never receive it. They are common when tickets for popular concerts, plays, and sporting events sell out. Additionally, scam artists purporting to represent musicians or bands have invited promoters to send offers for non-existent tour dates in a phishing email.

Pig butchering

It sounds unpleasant, but so called ‘pig-butchering’ scams are on the rise. These scams happen when someone seemingly friendly and open befriends you online and over time, through a series of conversations, persuades you to part with money. It’s often a little at first, suggesting you put some cash into a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ investment. Only, of course, the investment is a scam and fraudulent.

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