The Security Risks of Using WhatsApp and iMessage at Work: Why IT Should Ban Usage

Oren Todoros
By Oren Todoros, Updated on August 08, 2023, 5 min read
Ban WhatsApp at Work

Effective communication is essential for seamless collaboration and productivity. However, it’s crucial to remember that business communication needs to be user-friendly and in line with company policies and regulatory requirements. Neglecting the potential risks associated with WhatsApp and iMessage in the realm of sensitive business information can have severe consequences.


In the past, we covered why consumer-grade messaging apps like iMessage and WhatsApp fall short of collaboration and communication needs for business reasons. Here, we dive deeper and pull back the layers of privacy and security concerns that loom over WhatsApp and iMessage when used for business purposes.



Why WhatsApp and iMessage Chats at Work Can’t be Archived or Analyzed

End-to-end encryption means that only the sender and recipient can access the content of the messages exchanged, leaving no room for intermediaries or service providers to intercept or decrypt the data.


While end-to-end encryption undoubtedly offers a significant level of security and privacy in platforms like WhatsApp and iMessage and does help with cybersecurity awareness, it poses a challenge for organizations regarding logging, archiving, and monitoring communication data for legal and compliance purposes. The very feature that ensures the confidentiality of messages between users becomes a double-edged sword for businesses that must fulfill their legal obligations and maintain transparency.


End-to-end encryption means that only the sender and recipient can access the content of the messages exchanged, leaving no room for intermediaries or service providers to intercept or decrypt the data. While this is advantageous in terms of protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access, it hampers the ability of organizations to log and archive communication in compliance with regulatory requirements.


Balancing the need for secure communication and legal compliance is complex for organizations. While end-to-end encryption ensures privacy, it is essential for businesses to find alternative solutions that enable them to meet their legal obligations without compromising data security.



So, What are Businesses Supposed to Do?

IT deploy and managed chat apps


Organizations can regain control over their communication channels by deploying workplace-controlled chat apps and better protect sensitive information. Once these tools are deployed, IT should ban the usage of tools like WhatsApp and iMessage for workplace communication and collaboration.



Deploy Tools That Run on Open Protocols

iMessage and WhatsApp are closed systems meaning that all the data is locked in those systems. Communication platforms built on top of open protocols like IMAP and SMTP are IT-approved technologies. They can interoperate across different platforms so someone on one platform can communicate with someone on one from a different company. These solutions are designed to be used as business communication platforms, and they have been for 25+ years.



Deploy Tools That Have a Professional Appearance

What looks better at a conference: giving someone a business card with your email address or your WhatsApp information? Giving someone your WhatsApp account is similar to giving them a email address. When you have a professional email address, you signal to the person that your organization is professional, will deliver the value you’ve promised, and has thought through how to present your business.



Deploy Tools That Enhance Collaboration

Deploying workplace-controlled team chat apps also enhances collaboration by providing a secure and centralized platform for communication. These apps typically offer features like file sharing, task management, and integration with other business tools, streamlining workflows and improving productivity. By consolidating communication within a controlled environment, businesses can foster efficient collaboration while reducing the potential risks associated with fragmented and unsecured communication channels.


Use a collaboration tool that will provide you the secure communication you need for your team



Ultimately, the decision to ban the usage of non-workplace controlled team chat apps like WhatsApp and iMessage is driven by the need to prioritize data security, regulatory compliance, and efficient collaboration. By deploying workplace-controlled alternatives, organizations can strike a balance between providing the best collaboration tools for their teams and ensuring compliance with logging and archiving policies.


Businesses must evaluate their communication needs, assess the risks associated with non-workplace managed team chat apps, and identify suitable workplace-controlled alternatives that meet their specific requirements. By taking proactive measures to secure their communication channels and adhere to regulatory obligations, organizations can protect sensitive information, enhance collaboration, and maintain a strong foundation for success in today’s data-driven business environment.


While WhatsApp and iMessage may be popular and convenient for personal communication, they may not be the best choice for team chat within organizations. These apps lack the necessary controls, logging capabilities, and compliance features that businesses require. It is vital for organizations to opt for workplace-managed team chat tools that align with company IT policies, security protocols, and regulatory requirements. 

Yes, both WhatsApp and iMessage offer end-to-end encryption for their chats. This means that the content of the messages is secured and can only be accessed by the sender and recipient. 

Mobile device management (MDM) tools generally focus on managing and securing mobile devices within an organization’s infrastructure. However, when it comes to archiving WhatsApp and iMessage chats, MDM tools face limitations. Due to the end-to-end encryption employed by these apps, MDM tools cannot directly access or archive the content of the messages. An MDM tool could only know that WhatsApp is installed as an app on the device. 

Oren Todoros
Oren Todoros Oren is a strategic thinker with over 20 years of experience in the marketing industry and is the current Head of Content Strategy at Spike. He's also the proud father of 3 beautiful daughters and a dog named Milo.

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