Researchers claim WhatsApp group chats vulnerable, company denies

The report, however, did not document any threat to the way end-to-end encryption protects the content of messages sent on WhatsApp.

Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Publish Date: Jan 11 2018 2:22PM | Updated Date: Jan 11 2018 2:22PM
Researchers claim WhatsApp group chats vulnerable, company deniesRepresentational Image

After German cryptographers reported flaws that makes it possible to infiltrate WhatsApp's private group chats without admin permission, the Facebook-owned messaging platform said on Thursday its end-to-end encryption is impeccable and its over one billion users are at no data breach risk.

According to a report in Wired.com, cryptographers from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany told a gathering at the "Real World Crypto Security Conference" in Zurich on Wednesday that "anyone who controls the app's servers could insert new people into private group chats without needing admin permission.

"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 report, however, did not document any threat to the way end-to-end encryption protects the content of messages sent on WhatsApp.

Reacting to the report, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos tweeted: "Read the Wired article about WhatsApp -- scary headline! But there is no secret way into WhatsApp groups chats. The article makes a few key points."

In a statement to IANS on Thursday, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: "We've looked at this issue carefully. Existing members are notified when new people are added to a WhatsApp group. We built WhatsApp so group messages cannot be sent to a hidden user. 

"The privacy and security of our users is incredibly important to WhatsApp. It's why we collect very little information and all messages sent on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted," the spokesperson added.

According to the report, the attack on WhatsApp group chats takes advantage of a bug.

"Only an administrator of a WhatsApp group can invite new members, but WhatsApp doesn't use any authentication mechanism for that invitation that its own servers can't spoof," the report said.

So the server can simply add a new member to a group with no interaction on the part of the administrator.

"The phone of every participant in the group then automatically shares secret keys with that new member, giving him or her full access to any future messages," the report added.

WhatsApp provides users with multiple ways of confirming who will receive a message prior to it being sent.

In every WhatsApp group, users see a special blue message when someone joins or leaves a group. 

The membership of a group can be seen by tapping on "group info". 

For additional security, users can easily verify the security code of other group members.

With over 1.2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp is available in more than 50 different languages around the world and in 10 Indian languages.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp added end-to-end encryption to every conversation two years ago.

WhatsApp is also testing a feature where it will likely give group administrators more powers where they will be able to restrict all other members from sending text messages, photographs, videos, GIFs, documents or voice messages in case the admin thinks so.

According to WABetaInfo, a fan site that tests new WhatsApp features early, the popular mobile messaging platform has submitted the "Restricted Groups" setting via Google Play Beta Programme in the version 2.17.430.

Once restricted, other members will simply have to read their messages and will not be able to respond. They will have to use the "Message Admin" button to post a message or share media to the group.

Latest News

  1. Mulling changing law to award death to sexual assaulters of kids: Govt
  2. Mulling changing law to award death to sexual assaulters of kids: Govt
  1. Harsh weather damages orchards and property in south Kashmir
  2. Harsh weather damages orchards and property in south Kashmir
  1. India, Pak trade fire along LoC in Nowshera
  2. India, Pak trade fire along LoC in Nowshera
  1. ‘Wake up your conscience’, legislator Rasheed asks Jammu and Kashmir police
  2. ‘Wake up your conscience’, legislator Rasheed asks Jammu and Kashmir police
  1. Mirwaiz demands justice for Kathua minor, reopening of Kashmir rape cases since 1990
  2. Mirwaiz demands justice for Kathua minor, reopening of Kashmir rape cases since 1990
  1. Prashant Bhushan files complaint against BJP leader who claimed torching Rohingya settlements in Delhi
  2. Prashant Bhushan files complaint against BJP leader who claimed torching Rohingya settlements in Delhi
  1. Nine-year-old raped, killed in Uttar Pradesh
  2. Nine-year-old raped, killed in Uttar Pradesh
  1. Seven parties submit notice to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra
  2. Seven parties submit notice to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra
  1. Mobile Internet service snapped in Rajouri after protests over boy's death
  2. Mobile Internet service snapped in Rajouri after protests over boy's death
  1. Kulgam boy putting up at Barzulla found dead, police begins probe
  2. Kulgam boy putting up at Barzulla found dead, police begins probe
  1. Army commanders discuss Kashmir situation
  2. Army commanders discuss Kashmir situation
  1. Former Delhi HC Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar passes away
  2. Former Delhi HC Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar passes away
  1. Internet services suspended in Srinagar
  2. Internet services suspended in Srinagar
  1. Renowned Kashmir cardiologist Dr Sajad Reshi passes away
  2. Renowned Kashmir cardiologist Dr Sajad Reshi passes away
  1. PDP constitutes political affairs committee
  2. PDP constitutes political affairs committee
  1. Rail blockade at Chengail in West Bengal on Kathua rape case
  2. Rail blockade at Chengail in West Bengal on Kathua rape case
  1. SC seeks AG's help on media gag on CJI impeachment
  2. SC seeks AG's help on media gag on CJI impeachment
  1. Naroda Patiya massacre: Gujarat HC acquits ex-BJP minister Kodnani, convicts Babu Bajrangi
  2. Naroda Patiya massacre: Gujarat HC acquits ex-BJP minister Kodnani, convicts Babu Bajrangi
  1. JKLF Chief Yasin Malik detained in Srinagar
  2. JKLF Chief Yasin Malik detained in Srinagar
  1. Omar takes dig at Dy CM, accuses BJP of playing politics over Kathua rape and murder
  2. Omar takes dig at Dy CM, accuses BJP of playing politics over Kathua rape and murder
  1. Video | Fresh snowfall in higher reaches of Kashmir, rains lash plains
  2. Video | Fresh snowfall in higher reaches of Kashmir, rains lash plains
  1. Muslims observe shutdown in Chenab valley to demand speedy trial in Kathua case
  2. Muslims observe shutdown in Chenab valley to demand speedy trial in Kathua case
  1. Sonamarg-Zojila road closed for traffic after fresh snowfall
  2. Sonamarg-Zojila road closed for traffic after fresh snowfall
  1. UN staff increasingly becomes target of attack: Guterres
  2. UN staff increasingly becomes target of attack: Guterres
  1. Mughal road closed for traffic after landslide
  2. Mughal road closed for traffic after landslide
  1. Qatar approves draft law on property ownership by foreigners
  2. Qatar approves draft law on property ownership by foreigners
  1. Scientists find way to bend, stretch diamond
  2. Scientists find way to bend, stretch diamond