WhatsApp Flaw Compromises Security Of Encrypted Group Chats
14 January, 2018, 00:12 | Author: Lloyd Doyle
Essentially, anyone who controls WhatsApp's servers could easily add new unidentified people into WhatsApp groups without the permission of the group administrator despite the administrator having full access to adding and removing members.
A flaw in popular encrypted chat programs WhatsApp, Threema and Signal theoretically allows nearly anyone to control important servers, bypass encryption and add themselves to group chats.
After German cryptographers reported flaws that makes it possible to infiltrate WhatsApp's private group chats without admin permission, the Facebook-owned messaging platform said on Thursday its end-to-end encryption is impeccable and its over one billion users are at no data breach risk.
As you know, only the administrator of a WhatsApp group can add/remove members. The impostor could also block messages, like questions or requests.
WhatsApp representative said that if this would happen and someone would add new people to group chat, members would be warned about it. Entering the group, however, leaves traces, since this operation is listed in the graphical user interface. "He can cache all the message and then decide which get sent to whom and which not", Mr. Roster added.
"Additionally the WhatsApp server can forward these messages to the members individually such that a subtly chosen combination of messages can help it to cover the traces". This is claimed to indicate that your name has been mentioned four times in that specific WhatsApp group.
In a statement to Wired, WhatsApp said it had looked into the problem.
This means that an attacker can add someone to a conversation and read all future messages sent in the chat (past messages are still hidden). WhatsApp is also testing a new "Quick Switch" feature to let users shift from voice call to video. "And if not, the value of encryption is very little".
The best way for Sun readers to stay safe from this exploit is to always be mindful of who else is in your WhatsApp group. This is where researchers are paid to report hack able flaws in the company's software.
Researchers Paul Rosler, Christian Mainka, and Jorg Schwenk from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany analyzed instant messaging apps and their end-to-end security. That person manages the addition and removal of members, setting group policy and deleting the group chats itself.
For Threema, the researchers found even smaller bugs: An attacker who controls the server can replay messages or add users back into a group who have been removed.
Once the unidentified person has been injected into the group, the other members would receive a message informing them that a new member has been added, seemingly at the behest of the group admin. We say so as it is common for us to mute large groups that will result in skipping important conversations and messages.
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