WhatsApp groups chats prone to hacking

Image Reuters
New security flaw allows hackers to eavesdrop on your Whats App chats 0

Image Reuters New security flaw allows hackers to eavesdrop on your Whats App chats 0

"The confidentiality of the group is broken as soon as the uninvited member can obtain all the new messages and read them", Paul Rosler, one of the Ruhr University researchers, was quoted as saying. The researchers focused on WhatsApp, Signal and Threema and presented their findings at the "Real World Crypto security conference" in Zurich, Switzerland, Wired reported. In the meantime, a team of cryptographers from Germany claims to have uncovered flaws in the security of WhatsApp.

In response to the study, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has said it won't fix the problem, and that group chats "remain protected" by the app's encryption.

We completed the implementation of end-to-end encryption in 2016 for all messaging and calling on WhatsApp so that no one, not even us, has access to the content of your conversations.

According to the researchers, in a pairwise communication, where only two users communicate with each other, the server has a limited role to pay, but in a group conversation, the role of servers increases to merge the entire process and it is here where the problem of vulnerability kicks in. However, security researchers have recently found a flaw with the app that could leave those encrypted group chats vulnerable to eavesdroppers. According to the German researchers, the power of any WhatsApp group lies in WhatsApp servers and not the group admin.

The only people who can get access to WhatsApp servers are staff and governments if they are taking some legal actions.

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They found that anyone with control over WhatsApp's servers can add people to private group chats, including staff, hackers and governments who legally demand access.

"When an administrator wishes to add a member to a group, it sends a message to the server identifying the group and the member to add".

In a statement to IANS on Thursday, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: "We've looked at this issue carefully". As a result, any potential flaw that impacts WhatsApp's privacy is cause for concern. "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". Although participants will be notified about the new addition, with full control of the thread the attacker can choose to block messages about it.

WhatsApp also stated that preventing the attack would put an end to its group invite link tool which allows anyone to enter a group just by tapping on a URL. "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". The flaw takes advantage of an issue in how WhatsApp handles group chats. "There is no way to suppress this message", he wrote.

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