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The Matrix inspired ‘Agent Smith’ Proves We Need More Secure Workplace Communication Tools Than WhatsApp

July 17, 2019
By marketing peoplestrong
The Matrix inspired ‘Agent Smith’ Proves We Need More Secure Workplace Communication Tools Than WhatsApp

Agent Smith is the new digital threat that has shocked and worried users of applications like WhatsApp, that have become an extension of our everyday lives. Hidden in Android mobile apps, Agent Smith is a strain of a malware that has infected 25 million+ devices around the world, out of these 15 million are in India alone.

The virus, named after Hugo Weaving’s character from The Matrix, infects devices by modifying legitimate apps with a self-imposed ads module and disguises itself as Google-related updaters and vending modules to stay hidden. It can quiet easily be used for even more intrusive and malicious purposes such as information theft, identity theft, and much more.

With growing use of WhatsApp and Messenger for work related communication in enterprises, this and other such threats raises an important question on how secured the enterprise data is, in the hands of unsuspecting employees. Critical data is at risk and employees are not armed to take proper measures or protocols to secure data while using these open platforms of communication.

Agent Smith Not an Isolated Instance

In another instance in May 2019 WhatsApp confirmed a malware was successfully used for surveillance on phone calls made over the app. Another malicious virus was taking rounds in July 2019 on Facebook Messenger, which was used to infect devices via Facebook attachment spam. The virus was used to send fake messages to a user’s contacts via Facebook chat windows.

In 2018 malware running on Skype for Windows versions 7.40 allowed Skype’s update mechanism to gain full control over the computer via DLL hijacking and granted malicious software, or anyone logged into the box, full system-level privileges.

Messaging Apps Pose high Enterprise Data Security Threats

The unfortunate reality is that most messaging apps have vulnerabilities that can be exploited on various mobile risk scores related to vulnerabilities and the risk of data leaks, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the riskiest apps commonly found in enterprise environments. Some of the threats posed include:

  • Unencrypted Backups: most messaging apps are end-to-end encrypted, preventing messages from being intercepted during transmission. However, this doesn’t secure them once they are decrypted on the device. The decrypted messages and media are stored on Android and iOS, leaving enterprise data at the mercy of cloud providers to keep secure.
  • Malware: malicious malware hidden in these applications can result in identity theft, critical information theft, spying and much more
  • Altered messages: a security threat that allows hackers to alter the image, audio or video files. It stemmed from how media files are stored in WhatsApp.
  • Facebook Data sharing: In 2016, WhatsApp updated its Privacy Policy to allow sharing of data to Facebook which included phone numbers and usage data. Facebook has been under criticism in recent years for infringing on user’s privacy, and this move suggests Facebook and WhatsApp data are not as separate as we are made to believe.

A Highly Secured and Collaborative Messaging Platform Built for The Workplace Is The Key

The need for better communication and collaboration at the workplace is only growing. As per a study by Salesforce, ~86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. And another study by McKinsey states that 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.

Unless employees are provided with more secured alternatives, the use of open chat apps for sharing ideas, critical company data, and IP will continue unchecked. Moreover, the future of workplace communication lies in establishing systems and platforms which encourage meaningful and contextualised connect amongst people – in a secure and non-intrusive environment.

New age enterprise communication and collaboration tools are not only more secured, but also makes communication between teams far simpler and more streamlined, providing an avenue for effective collaboration. There are numerous benefits of collaboration tools, including:

  • Better distribution and delegation of work
  • A more collaborative way to work across geographic locations
  • More efficient collaboration across teams and departments
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved tracking and reporting
  • Better storage and organization of workplace documents

Messenger by PeopleStrong is one such highly trusted enterprise collaboration tool that takes security seriously and allows you to create a secure and private communication channel, enterprise wide. Built to keep enterprise data completely secure, Messenger powers SSL encrypted messaging and sharing of data. And, stores all conversations within the application, even after the employee leaves.

With Messenger, your team’s communication is not scattered across touchpoints like emails, meetings, and multiple business tools, it is at one single place for everyone. It is not only secured but is built to transform enterprise communication with highly intuitive features like:

  • Secure data sharing
  • Task and productivity management
  • Focused conversations
  • Smart Workgroups

You can learn more about how Messenger is currently connecting employees seamlessly at companies such as Snapdeal, CEAT, Sodexo DHL Express and many more, here.

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