WhatsApp messages are heavily encrypted but German researchers have found a vulnerability in group chatsReuters
14 January, 2018, 00:15
That report stated that the researchers had found flaws in WhatsApp, to make infiltrating the app's group chats much easier than ought to be possible.
"Anyone who controls the app's servers could insert new people into private group chats without needing admin permission", the report said, citing cryptographers. Once an attacker with control of the WhatsApp server had access to the conversation, he or she could also use the server to selectively block any messages in the group, including those that ask questions, or provide warnings about the new entrant. German Cryptographers, in their research, have found out that WhatsApp group chats are hackable citing that any new member can read the group chats.
The server can easily spoof any new member to the group without asking for permission from the group administrator. "Thereby it can cache sent messages to the group, read their content first and decide in which order they are delivered to the members". I think it would be better if the server didn't have metadata visibility into group membership, but that's a largely unsolved problem, and it's unrelated to confidentiality of group messages.
Moxie Marlinspike, a security researcher who developed Signal, which licenses its protocol to WhatsApp, said that the current app design is reasonable, and that the report only sends a message to others not to "build security into your products, because that makes you a target for researchers, even if you make the right decisions".
If you are a member of many WhatsApp groups and with a lot of members and active conversations, then you will know the value of this upcoming feature that will notify you when you are mentioned.
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In a statement to Wired, WhatsApp said it had looked into the problem.
WhatsApp rolled out the mentions feature for its users back in 2016 in an attempt to improve the overall experience of the users.
"Read the Wired article today about WhatsApp - scary headline!" However, WhatsApp has pointed out that it does give notifications and alerts when a new user is added to the group. It would appear as if the new person on the group chat had the authority of the admin to enter the chat.
"If someone hacks the WhatsApp server, they can obviously alter the group membership".
"At present, WhatsApp is developing this feature for iOS and it will be available soon for all users, instead for Android it is already enabled by default in the newest WhatsAppGoogle Play beta for Android 2.18.12", the report added. Remeber the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp uses for sending messages between users?
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