WhatsApp, Signal group chats not as secure as users might believe


But how easy can it be to gain access to the WhatsApp servers?

'We built WhatsApp so group messages can not be sent to a hidden user.

Researchers announced they had discovered flaws in WhatsApp's security at the Real World Crypto security conference in Switzerland, Wired reports.

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

"When an administrator wishes to add a member to a group, it sends a message to the server identifying the group and the member to add".

WhatsApp said it had "carefully looked" at the flaw and reassured users that their encrypted messages were safe. A report by Wired has confirmed these findings with a WhatsApp spokesperson.

As noted cryptographer and Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green explained, the vulnerability stems from the fact that the WhatsApp server plays a significant role in group management, and that group management messages are not end-to-end encrypted or signed.

"If someone hacks the WhatsApp server, they can obviously alter the group membership".

While the research indicates that it is possible for an infiltrator to add members to a group chat without members noticing by manipulating alerts, it's not guaranteed that doing so could be kept secret from the group's members.

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"The described weaknesses enable [the] attacker. who controls the WhatsApp server or can break the transport layer security, to take full control over a group", the researchers wrote in their paper published earlier this month.

Only admins can add new members to private groups.

WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption to assure users that their conversations can not be accessed, even if the company providing it so desires.

New additions to the group chat would be notified to all members of the chat just like normal.

"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 privacy and security of our users is incredibly important to WhatsApp.

In a further response from Stamos he said there were multiple ways to check and verify the members of a group chat.

While WhatsApp boasts great end-to-end encryption of messages which is great for those who crave privacy - but a source of chagrin for many in the law enforcement community - it seems the messaging service is susceptible to attacks on user privacy.

But the researchers said it would be possible to get the server to jumble up the way in which messages are sent, so that members would not receive this notification or be aware of the newcomer. If they add themselves to the group: 1. "There is no way to suppress this message". This allows the server controller to add a new group person without the group admin's knowledge.