communityWhether it is email or texting sending important personal or financial information online is just not a great idea.  But sometimes it may be expedient and you may believe the person on the other end of the conversation is trustworthy.  However, the apps many people are communicating on might not be so secure because important security options aren’t being used.  Researchers at Brigham Young University have confirmed through a study that indeed the majority of users of popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber are leaving themselves exposed to fraud or other hacking.

Of these 3 popular messaging apps only WhatsApp and Viber encrypt messages by default.  But to assure trusted security all three messaging apps also additionally require another step called in the paper as authentication ceremony, but more commonly known as two-step verification. Two-step verification allows users to confirm their phone number with a passcode.  This verification process is considered as a more secure way of protecting personal data and information. If a hacker gets your password they don’t automatically have access to an account without the phone number or vice-versa.  If you and your conversation partner have two-step verification turned on then you both can be confident that you are communicating with your intended conversation partner. At the same time, it ensures nobody else including the company providing the messaging application can insert themselves as a man-in-the-middle attacker.

Because most don’t experience significant security problems with messaging, they don’t invest the time and effort to understand and use these security measures.  The BYU researchers are now working to design an implementation that makes the ‘authentication ceremony’ quick and automatic.