WhatsApp security loophole can add uninvited members to your groups

12 January, 2018, 03:27 | Author: Darren Santiago
  • WhatsApp security loophole can add uninvited members to your groups

German cryptographers have found a way to infiltrate WhatsApp's group chats despite its end-to-end encryption.

Researchers from the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany had announced they had discovered flaws in WhatsApp's security at the Real World Crypto security conference in Switzerland, according to Wired.

Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos in a Twitter thread said that it was impossible for anyone to infiltrate WhatsApp's private groups.

It might not be the most effective way to eavesdrop on WhatsApp group conversations - you'd need access to WhatsApp's servers, and any unexpected invitee is bound to attract suspicion. This does not mean that the remaining members of the group won't know that a new one has joined.

End-to-end encrypted messaging technology is in demand, and WhatsApp implemented a solution from Open Whisper System's a couple of years ago. "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.

Hackers and spies could secretly eavesdrop on your private WhatsApp conversations, security researchers have claimed.

The research says that the app does not use any authentication to check administrator's invitations to group chats.

Firstly, control of WhatsApp servers tends to be only possible by Facebook (which owns WhatsApp), and governments who can demand access to the servers.

According to the report, while Signal and Threema's flaws were not so serious, with WhatsApp they released that anyone with control of the app's servers could insert new people into private groups. A report by Wired has confirmed these findings with a WhatsApp spokesperson. In such a case, it is impossible for them to share details with enforcement agencies that they themselves can not access. As a result, any potential flaw that impacts WhatsApp's privacy is cause for concern.

"WhatsApp has looked at the report carefully - following the researcher's plan would necessitate a change to the way WhatsApp provides a popular feature called group invite links - which are used millions of times per day", he said in one of the tweets. The attacker will not see any past messages to the group; those were e2e encrypted with keys the attacker doesn't have. 2.

"While our investigation focuses on three major instant messaging applications, our methodology and the underlying model is of generic goal and can be applied to other secure group instant messaging protocols as well", researchers concluded in the paper.

He said that there are multiple ways to verify group chat members, adding that users are notified of anyone new joining, including those without permission. "There is no way to suppress this message", he wrote.

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