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tinyfav.com January 18, 2018


WhatsApp end-to-end security of group chats can be easily hacked: German researchers

12 January 2018, 03:26 | Gina Pena

WhatsApp Security Flaw Lets Hackers Enter Any Group Unnoticed

Creepy hackers could secretly eavesdrop on your private WhatsApp group chats, experts claim

A security flaw in the encrypted mobile messaging service WhatsApp could enable hackers to spy on private group chats, researchers warn. They point out that "WhatsApp doesn't use any authentication mechanism" when a new member is added to the group and this is something its own servers can spoof as well. The researchers focused on WhatsApp, Signal and Threema and presented their findings at the "Real World Crypto security conference" in Zurich, Switzerland, Wired reported.

Reacting to the report, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos tweeted: "Read the Wired article about WhatsApp - scary headline!"

It's not a problem that will impact most users, but chat apps like Signal and WhatsApp have been used for private conversations from everyone ranging from politicians to government dissenters. "If I hear there's end-to-end encryption for both groups and two-party communications, that means adding of new members should be protected against".

This is a big problem, because WhatsApp prides itself on end-to-end encryption for its messages. "Entering the group however leaves traces since this operation is listed in the graphical user interface", the paper states, though it adds that the flaws also allow the attacker to hide their tracks.

Security researcher Moxie Marlinspike in a forum post explained how WhatsApp group messaging works. However, in a group conversation, the role of servers increases to merge the entire process and it is here where the vulnerability lies - trusting the company's servers to manage group members, who have full access to a group conversation, and their actions, The Hacker News reports.

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Firstly, control of WhatsApp servers tends to be only possible by Facebook (which owns WhatsApp), and governments who can demand access to the servers. The application has been designed in such a way that the group messages can not be sent to any hidden user.

The researchers noted that if a person were to gain access to WhatsApp servers, then he or she can read group chats, add or remove people from a group or take admin rights of the group which puts them in charge.

"We've looked at this issue carefully", the spokesperson added.

Overall, the bug doesn't seem to pose too much of a risk for the average WhatsApp user. "The main exception to this is former group members, who already know the group ID - and can now add themselves back to the group with impunity". An attacker who compromises the Telegram server can, undetected, recover every message that was sent in the past and receive all messages transmitted in the future without anyone receiving any notification at all. All group members will see that the attacker has joined. "There is no way to suppress this message". It is said that this flaw can comprise of the end-to-end encryption of the messaging platform.



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