WhatsApp says its end-to-end encryption is impeccable, denies group chats vulnerability

Creepy hackers could secretly eavesdrop on your private WhatsApp group chats, experts claim

In a revelation that could change how much people trust services that offer end-to-end encryption, they said that a critical flaw, or feature, in WhatsApp allows anyone who control's WhatsApp servers to add new people to a group without obtaining permission from the administrator of the group.

Security researchers have discovered a method of infiltrating group chats in WhatsApp, effectively rendering the chat tool's end-to-end encryption useless. "But there is no [sic] a secret way into WhatsApp groups chats", he tweeted. This does not mean that the remaining members of the group won't know that a new one has joined. "The content of messages sent in WhatsApp groups remains protected by end-to-end encryption".

But, as it turns out, the Signal protocol does not check whether the message was sent by an actual member of the group, meaning that anyone outside the group can send the message and, consequently, add a new user to the group. A research paper released at a security event this week describes how group chats can be leveraged by snoops. 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.

Firstly, control of WhatsApp servers tends to be only possible by Facebook (which owns WhatsApp), and governments who can demand access to the servers. Usually, only admins can add the new members to private groups. 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.

The report said while Signal and Threema's flaws were not so serious, with WhatsApp they found that anyone with control of the app's servers could insert new people into private groups.

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WhatsApp said it had "carefully looked" at the flaw and reassured users that their encrypted messages were safe. WhatsApp has also acknowledged this server security issue but the spokesperson has pushed the idea that the attackers can cache, block or prevent the alert stating new members have been added. In such a case, it is impossible for them to share details with enforcement agencies that they themselves can not access.

Researchers have revealed how hackers could break into the popular messaging app and read your conversations.

The idea behind encryption is to muddle your messages so only you and the recipient can read texts you send.

So if you see someone new entering your group, speak to the other members in private chats to confirm the new person's identity. "There is no way to suppress this message".

The objective of having an end-to-end encryption is to stop trusting the intermediate servers in such a way that even the company or the server that transmits the data can decrypt the messages or abuse the centralized position. "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".

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