WhatsApp flaw might let joining group chats without permission

14 January, 2018, 00:16 | Author: Darrell Baldwin
  • Security- System Lock

Researchers in Germany say there is a flaw in WhatsApp that could allow an attacker to infiltrate group chats, according to Wired.

WhatsApp Messenger, which has made our lives easier and connected people like never before seems to be making headlines yet again. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has repeatedly claimed to offer total security for its users through its end-to-end encryption.

Researchers have discovered flaws in the way WhatsApp, Signal, and Threema messaging apps handle secure (encrypted) group communication, which could result in unauthorized users getting added to closed groups and monitoring future conversations within them.

The confidentiality of the group is broken as soon as the uninvited member can obtain all the new messages and read them.

In a paper describing the flaw, titled "More is Less: On the End-to-End Security of Group Chats in Signal, WhatsApp, and Threema", the researchers explain how someone could take advantage of it.

In a statement to Wired, WhatsApp said it had looked into the problem. The report also said that there is no authentication mechanism for the invitation that its own server can add to the group.

WhatsApp has started allowing users to "dismiss" administrators of group chats.




WhatsApp rolled out the mentions feature for its users back in 2016 in an attempt to improve the overall experience of the users. "And if not, the value of encryption is very little", further added Paul Rosler.

Two years ago, the chat app added "end-to-end encryption" which is meant to make sure messages are scrambled so they can only be read by people who are meant to receive them.

According to WABetaInfo, a site that tracks changes and upcoming features in WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app is now testing a new feature called "Mentions Notification" which notifies users whenever they are mentioned in a group chat and allows them to skip all the unwanted messages and view only the messages where they've been mentioned.

Once restricted, other members will simply have to read their messages and will not be able to respond. And, if you scroll through the unread messages in the WhatsApp group manually, then the button will vanish automatically. Since the group ID is a random 128-bit number (and is never revealed to non-group-members or even the server) that pretty much blocks the attack.

So if you see someone new entering your group, speak to the other members in private chats to confirm the new person's identity.

Alex Stamos, who heads up security at Facebook, said: "There is no secret way into WhatsApp group chats". Until then, all you can do is to keep an eye on the members being added to your group chat for any suspicious activity.

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