Category Archives: News


WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages 

A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.

Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

Privacy campaigners said the vulnerability is a “huge threat to freedom of speech” and warned it can be used by government agencies to snoop on users who believe their messages to be secure. WhatsApp has made privacy and security a primary selling point, and has become a go to communications tool of activists, dissidents and diplomats.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption relies on the generation of unique security keys, using the acclaimed Signal protocol, developed by Open Whisper Systems, that are traded and verified between users to guarantee communications are secure and cannot be intercepted by a middleman. However, WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.

The recipient is not made aware of this change in encryption, while the sender is only notified if they have opted-in to encryption warnings in settings, and only after the messages have been re-sent. This re-encryption and rebroadcasting effectively allows WhatsApp to intercept and read users’ messages.

The security backdoor was discovered by Tobias Boelter, a cryptography and security researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. He told the Guardian: “If WhatsApp is asked by a government agency to disclose its messaging records, it can effectively grant access due to the change in keys.”

The backdoor is not inherent to the Signal protocol. Open Whisper Systems’ messaging app, Signal, the app used and recommended by whistleblower Edward Snowden, does not suffer from the same vulnerability. If a recipient changes the security key while offline, for instance, a sent message will fail to be delivered and the sender will be notified of the change in security keys without automatically resending the message.

WhatsApp’s implementation automatically resends an undelivered message with a new key without warning the user in advance or giving them the ability to prevent it.

Boelter reported the backdoor vulnerability to Facebook in April 2016, but was told that Facebook was aware of the issue, that it was “expected behaviour” and wasn’t being actively worked on. The Guardian has verified the backdoor still exists.

The WhatsApp vulnerability calls into question the privacy of messages sent across the service used around the world, including by people living in oppressive regimes.
The WhatsApp vulnerability calls into question the privacy of messages sent across the service used around the world, including by people living in oppressive regimes. Photograph: Marcelo Sayão/EPA

Steffen Tor Jensen, head of information security and digital counter-surveillance at the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights, verified Boelter’s findings. He said: “WhatsApp can effectively continue flipping the security keys when devices are offline and re-sending the message, without letting users know of the change till after it has been made, providing an extremely insecure platform.”

Boelter said: “[Some] might say that this vulnerability could only be abused to snoop on ‘single’ targeted messages, not entire conversations. This is not true if you consider that the WhatsApp server can just forward messages without sending the ‘message was received by recipient’ notification (or the double tick), which users might not notice. Using the retransmission vulnerability, the WhatsApp server can then later get a transcript of the whole conversation, not just a single message.”

The vulnerability calls into question the privacy of messages sent across the service, which is used around the world, including by people living in oppressive regimes.

Professor Kirstie Ball, co-director and founder of the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy, called the existence of a backdoor within WhatsApp’s encryption “a gold mine for security agencies” and “a huge betrayal of user trust”. She added: “It is a huge threat to freedom of speech, for it to be able to look at what you’re saying if it wants to. Consumers will say, I’ve got nothing to hide, but you don’t know what information is looked for and what connections are being made.”

In the UK, the recently passed Investigatory Powers Act allows the government to intercept bulk data of users held by private companies, without suspicion of criminal activity, similar to the activity of the US National Security Agency uncovered by the Snowden revelations. The government also has the power to force companies to “maintain technical capabilities” that allow data collection through hacking and interception, and requires companies to remove “electronic protection” from data. Intentional or not, WhatsApp’s backdoor to the end-to-end encryption could be used in such a way to facilitate government interception.

Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “If companies claim to offer end-to-end encryption, they should come clean if it is found to be compromised – whether through deliberately installed backdoors or security flaws. In the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act means that technical capability notices could be used to compel companies to introduce flaws – which could leave people’s data vulnerable.”

A WhatsApp spokesperson told the Guardian: “Over 1 billion people use WhatsApp today because it is simple, fast, reliable and secure. At WhatsApp, we’ve always believed that people’s conversations should be secure and private. Last year, we gave all our users a better level of security by making every message, photo, video, file and call end-to-end encrypted by default. As we introduce features like end-to-end encryption, we focus on keeping the product simple and take into consideration how it’s used every day around the world.

“In WhatsApp’s implementation of the Signal protocol, we have a “Show Security Notifications” setting (option under Settings > Account > Security) that notifies you when a contact’s security code has changed. We know the most common reasons this happens are because someone has switched phones or reinstalled WhatsApp. This is because in many parts of the world, people frequently change devices and Sim cards. In these situations, we want to make sure people’s messages are delivered, not lost in transit.”

Asked to comment specifically on whether Facebook/WhatApps had accessed users’ messages and whether it had done so at the request of government agencies or other third parties, it directed the Guardian to its site that details aggregate data on government requests by country.

WhatsApp later issued another statement saying: “WhatsApp does not give governments a ‘backdoor’ into its systems and would fight any government request to create a backdoor.”

Concerns over the privacy of WhatsApp users has been repeatedly highlighted since Facebook acquired the company for $22bn in 2014. In August 2015, Facebook announced a change to the privacy policy governing WhatsApp that allowed the social network to merge data from WhatsApp users and Facebook, including phone numbers and app usage, for advertising and development purposes.

Facebook halted the use of the shared user data for advertising purposes in November after pressure from the pan-European data protection agency group Article 29 Working Party in October. The European commission then filed charges against Facebook for providing “misleading” information in the run-up to the social network’s acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp, following its data-sharing change.






Via: WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages | Technology

Anna Faris Says You Shouldn’t Date Men In These 5 Professions 

When Anna Faris has dating advice, you listen. After all, the woman found a gem of a man in husband Chris Pratt.

On Tuesday’s episode of “Conan,” the 40-year-old actress gave a preview of the love advice you’ll find in her upcoming memoir Unqualified. Faris had some very specific thoughts on dating men in certain professions: Avoid athletes, chefs, comedians and magicians at all costs. 

“I enjoy a good magician every now and then but in [your] daily life do you want someone who’s like, ‘I’m not telling you my secrets!’” she explained. “It’s like, ‘Can you knock it off and at least tell me your secrets?’”

There’s one problem with Faris’ no-date list, though: Actors are also on it. And her hubby is not only an actor but a budding magician:

Hey, we don’t blame her for making an exception. Watch the video above to hear all of Faris’ advice.






Via: Anna Faris Says You Shouldn’t Date Men In These 5 Professions

Pretty Big Movement Is A Dance Company That Crushes Body Stereotypes With Style 


After years of facing excessive criticism and judgment because of her body type, Bronx-born Akira Armstrong had one probing question: aren’t there any other big girls in New York City who can dance?

The answer, of course, was yes. Armstrong recruited some of the best in the game to join her full-figured dance company, Pretty Big Movement, which provides a “no judgement” space for women of all body types to flex their dancing skills and look damn good doing it.

In The Scene’s video below, Armstrong discusses how, despite dancing in two Beyoncé music videos, she still had trouble finding an agent to represent her because her body didn’t conform to the mainstream beauty norms dancers are expected to embody.

“When people think about the stereotypical dancer’s body, they think [of someone] very thin, tall, long legs, long arms,” she explained. “Growing up in a dance environment, I did feel like my body was a negative.”

Armstrong founded her very own dance company to ensure that budding dancers with curves would not have to grapple with the same undue feelings of alienation and self-doubt. “It’s about uplifting and empowering women,” she said, “to feel like they can be confident to do anything, not just dance.”

Watch the ladies of Pretty Big Movement break it down ― and by it, we mean outdated beauty ideals, of course ― in the video below.


Bella Hadid Unfollows Selena Gomez After Kissing Photos With The Weeknd Surface 


Photos surfaced of The Weeknd kissing Selena Gomez in Santa Monica on Tuesday night, right outside the restaurant Giorgio Baldi. Major plot twist, right?

Well The Weeknd’s ex, supermodel Bella Hadid, unfollowed Gomez on Instagram shortly after the news hit the internet. According to Instagram screenshots taken by, the timing is too uncanny to be a coincidence.

Interestingly enough, Hadid still follows The Weeknd:

Screenshot of Bella Hadid’s Instagram showing she still follows The Weeknd.

Although The Weeknd and Hadid split back in November, it can’t be easy to see your ex move on so publicly.

Now all we’re wondering is what Taylor Swift thinks of all this drama. She’s close friends with the Hadids AND Gomez, so we’re curious whose side she’s on.







Via: Bella Hadid Unfollows Selena Gomez After Kissing Photos With The Weeknd Surface 

Ashley Graham’s Sexiest Shoot Yet Is Also Her Most Powerful 


Attention, attention: Ashley Graham is not here for your labels.

What she is here for, it appears, is arguably her sexiest, most fashionable photo shoot of all time: a six-page spread in V Magazine’s January/February issue.

Graham is pictured scantily clad (if clad at all) in the series of images, making out with a male model, flashing her lingerie to the world from a window of New York City’s The Standard hotel and, you know, tying up a shirtless man.


The imagery is powerful, but it’s Graham’s interview, conducted by Chelsea Handler, that reminds us why we love her so much. Graham has become a role model of self-love and acceptance for women, but is still widely referred to as “plus size.” Graham told Handler what she wants for herself, and all women, is to strip the labels altogether.

When people ask what it’s like to be a plus-size model, Graham says she “can’t stand that question anymore. … I mean, I’ve been doing this now for 17 years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken up about the label ‘plus size.’ I don’t think women should be labeled at all, I think that it’s completely divisive.”


Despite her disdain for labels, she still recognizes the responsibility she has as the person who “for whatever reason, has been given the opportunity to be on so many covers and to have a voice. I don’t take that lightly,” she said.

 In the event that she does forget the impact she is having, her fans are quick to remind her. “Some days I forget that and someone comes to me crying and says, ‘Because of you, I wore shorts today,’ or I’ll get an email that says, ‘I had sex with my husband with the lights on.’ At those moments I’m like, ‘Wow, you are changing people’s lives, and you’re doing it by just being yourself.’”


Ain’t that the truth. Head to V Magazine to see the entire spread.





Via: Ashley Graham’s Sexiest Shoot Yet Is Also Her Most Powerful

So Now There’s A Picture Of Selena Gomez In A Thong On Instagram

Did you miss me? 

After sitting out the last couple months of 2016, Selena Gomez is wasting no time making headlines in the new year. Seriously, girl. There’s no rush.

A day after paparazzi caught the “Revival” singer kissing R&B star The Weeknd, Gomez is making the internet’s collective jaw drop with a revealing photo of the actress wearing next to nothing.

One half of Kim Kardashian’s favorite photography duo, Mert Alas, shared a behind-the-scenes picture on social media of a nearly nude Gomez posing in front of a mirror in a gold thong. With only a towel covering her chest, the former Disney star seductively stares at her reflection, baring her bum and a tattoo across her back.

Alas, who appears in the background of the photo, captioned the Instagram “Beauty and the Beast.” According to E! Online, he also tagged The Weeknd in the comments section with a black heart emoji.

Instagram’s reigning celebrity queen officially returned to the photo-sharing app on Thanksgiving with a heartfelt note to fans. Ever since then, she has shared sparingly, only posting a handful of pics that have some fans suspecting that new music from the singer is on its way.

This new pic, however, is causing some controversy for Selena stans. Amid the “yaaas, queen”s and Demi Lovato dragging in the comments section, some followers expressed disappointment that Gomez would agree to pose for the revealing shot after her emotional comeback speech at the American Music Awards in November.

“I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she told the crowd, putting her hand to her heart. “I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore. All I can say from the bottom of my heart is that I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to share what I love every single day with people that I love.”

A little contradictory? Maybe. That being said, now is as good of a time as any to remind everybody that it’s Gomez’s choice, not her followers, to do what she wants with her body. Just because she’s showing some skin, it doesn’t mean that she’s not being true to herself, O





Via: So Now There’s A Picture Of Selena Gomez In A Thong On Instagram 

Women Who Draw Is An Incredible Database Connecting ‘Less Visible’ Artists Around The World 

The concept behind Women Who Draw is simple: it’s a self-described “open directory of female* professional illustrators, artists and cartoonists.”

The asterisk in that statement is key. Women Who Draw is trans-inclusive, the organization notes. As a result, it has one succinct goal: to create a platform for women, trans and gender non-conforming illustrators find work, find each other, and continue being creative around the globe.

Women Who Draw originally launched in December of last year, but due to an overwhelming number of submissions in one 24-hour period (early supporters included Lenny Letter co-creator Lena Dunham), co-founders/artists Wendy MacNaughton and Julia Rothman opted to relaunch in 2017. WWD now has around 700 active members, with 300 more on a waiting list ― interested artists can sign up easily online this very moment.


Together, WWD hopes to challenge the hiring bias its founders have observed in the publishing world. “We counted a certain magazine that often has illustrated covers, and noticed that in the past 55 covers, only four were by women,” Rothman told the BBC this week. On top of that, WWD aims to help bring images of women of color and queer women ― made by women of color and queer women ― into mainstream publications that don’t often showcase them.

Ultimately, the site sends a pretty clear message to the people who claim, “Oh, I’d love to hire more talented women illustrators. I just don’t know any.” PSA: Now you do.

After spending time with Rothman in The Huffington Post’s New York office prior to the relaunch (see our time-lapse of Rothman’s painting demonstration above), we checked in with MacNaughton about the origins, and the future, of her open directory for women artists worldwide:

How did Women Who Draw come together initially?

It all started while flipping though a well-known magazine that uses illustration prominently on their cover and interior. After going through a big stack and counting the number of illustrations they printed and what percentage were drawn by women, we saw there was a big bias in hiring. And it seemed to be similar for some other publications as well.

At first we were going to call out the magazine publicly, but then we decided to try to solve the problem instead of just expose it. We decided to create a tool that would make the volume of talented women illustrators from all different background out there undeniable. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for magazines, newspapers, advertising agencies and publishers to hire women, and encourage them to hire women of color and queer women and other groups of women they might not otherwise feel they have connections to.

How did you go about recruiting illustrators to take part in the site?

We started with about 50 of our colleagues on the site. They helped us spread the word as did a few other key people, and the word spread through social media. In 24 hours, we received 1,200 submissions and had to press pause so we could catch up. We had a hunch it would be well received, but not in a million years did we expect the site to get the response that it did. We’ve already received great feedback that people are getting hired through Women Who Draw. We’re thrilled that we seem to have created something that is useful to so many people.

How is the site intended to function, both from an illustrator’s perspective and from a user’s perspective?

The site functions both as a connector of artist to client, and artist to artist. By adding your name and artwork to the site, you promote yourself as a professional illustrator for hire. You have the ability to identify yourself by region, ethnicity, religion, or orientation to give an idea of your background and personal point of view. You also can look at other artists’ work out there that you might not have otherwise seen and connect to a community of artists you might not otherwise have direct access to.

As an art director, the site is a huge gathering of talented, professional women illustrators for hire from all over the world, all in one place. But it’s not visually overwhelming. The clean and simple design allows you to scroll quickly and browse styles and search for specific aspects of identity. Each drawing links to the illustrator’s site and contact information. We just started a new “favorites” feature, where a user can bookmark particular artists and build a personal collection to return to in the future. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to discover and hire more women artists.

Why was it important for you to allow illustrators to identify themselves in terms of race/ethnicity and religion as well?

Like all fields ― journalism, politics, publishing ― it is important that illustration too has a diverse and representative voice that includes women and minorities. Enabling women illustrators to publicly identify as they wish will help clients be more diverse in their hiring. So many people say, “Oh, I’d love to hire more talented African-American women illustrators. I just don’t know any.” Well, now they do. Additionally, we all bring our identities and experiences to our work. Sometimes a having a particular background provides useful insight for a project. For example, if an art director is hiring for a book about Yiddish proverbs, they might find it helpful to hire a Jewish illustrator who is familiar with the sayings and the culture associated with it.

Broadly speaking, what do you think are the primary obstacles perpetuating gender inequality in the art world?

Some people don’t think there are any obstacles for women or minorities. Everyone assumes that by now we are all equal and on the same footing. That seems to be the first major problem. Making people aware and getting people talking about it more is a big first step in making change. Let’s get this conversation going.

Do you work directly with the Cartoonists of Color Database and the Queer Cartoonists Database? Are there any other resources you would suggest to either publishers, or even illustrators looking for an inclusive coalition of artists?

I know Mari Naomi (founder of CCD and QCD) personally and both of us are huge fans of what she created ― they are fantastic resources for the comics world. We reached out to her as we were building the site to talk to her about her experiences and see how we could support one another. Though we don’t work together formally, we’re proud to have her as an illustrator on WWD, and we’re psyched to refer people to her databases. Outside of that, there aren’t many other resources we’ve come across. If the site keeps having the kind of impact it’s having, and we get enough public support (you can contribute on the website!) we’re hoping we can broaden the Women Who Draw platform into other creative fields. But right now we’re just focusing on making Women Who Draw as useful and impactful as it can be.







Via: Women Who Draw Is An Incredible Database Connecting ‘Less Visible’ Artists Around The World