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A WhatsApp security flaw let researchers snoop on group chat messages

A WhatsApp security flaw let researchers snoop on group chat messages

A team of cryptographers recently found a flaw in WhatsApp's group chats even after WhatsApp added the end to end encryption to the chats.

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.

'The confidentiality of the group is broken as soon as the uninvited member can obtain all the new messages and read them, ' study coauthor Paul Rösler, told Wired.

Encryption has always been one of the more hard elements of group chat; the best protection in the world can not stop unintended readers from seeing messages once they've been decoded.

"Existing members are notified when new people are added to a WhatsApp group", the platform said. The server then checks that the user is authorized to administer that group, and (if so), it sends a message to every member of the group indicating that they should add that user. 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.

In their paper, the researchers compared WhatsApp's security practices with those of Signal and Threema, and they ultimately concluded that WhatsApp is the least secure of the three when it comes to group messages.




Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos responded to the report on Twitter, saying, "Read the Wired article today about WhatsApp - scary headline!"

WhatsApp said it had "carefully looked" at the flaw and reassured users that their encrypted messages were safe.

However, researchers from Germany discovered that WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption might be useless because it does not protect from unauthorized access via company's servers.

WhatsApp rolled out the mentions feature for its users back in 2016 in an attempt to improve the overall experience of the users. Remeber the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp uses for sending messages between users? And, if you scroll through the unread messages in the WhatsApp group manually, then the button will vanish automatically. "If I hear there's end-to-end encryption for both groups and two-party communications, that means adding of new members should be protected against". The concern raised here is that in groups with multiple administrators, the user can send out messages to multiple admins, fooling them about who invited the user.

Managing a WhatsApp group is going to be easier now.

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