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WhatsApp Group chats are not secure, a new report has revealed

14 January 2018

Researchers announced they had discovered flaws in WhatsApp's security at the Real World Crypto security conference in Switzerland, Wired reports. All group members are deemed administrators, and can thus add a new group member by sending an encrypted group management message to the other participants. "This means the privacy of your end-to-end encrypted group chat is only guaranteed if you actually trust the WhatsApp server". "And if not, the value of encryption is very little".

Staff and governments can legally demand access to the servers and top level hackers can control WhatsApps servers.

The main problem is this: end-to-end encryption, which all of these messaging apps purport to offer, should not depend on uncompromised servers.

Have you ever been bombarded with hundreds of notifications from a WhatsApp group, and chose not to read any simply because there were tons of messages and a lot of them did not seem to matter to you? Well, the latest feature that WhatsApp is testing sends notifications to the users when they are mentioned in a group chat.

In Threema, only the creator of a group is the administrator, each group has a unique ID, and all group messages contain this ID.

But the Ruhr University researchers and Johns Hopkins' Green point out several tricks that could be used to delay detection. "He can cache all the message and then decide which get sent to whom and which not", Mr. Roster added. There's no need to remove and then add again. German Cryptographers, in their research, have found out that WhatsApp group chats are hackable citing that any new member can read the group chats.

"We've looked at this issue carefully", the spokesperson added.

He also said there are multiple ways to check and verify the members of a group chat.

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This means that an attacker can add someone to a conversation and read all future messages sent in the chat (past messages are still hidden). The problem is that WhatsApp doesn't use any sort of authentication for the invitation. This is claimed to indicate that your name has been mentioned four times in that specific WhatsApp group.

Furthermore, Alex Stamos, the chief security officer for Facebook, posted his opinion on Twitter regarding the supposed threat.

For some of WhatsApp's users, the stakes of the app's security could be high. The common thing here is that they all use the Signal protocol, made by Whisper Systems. So have political insiders and Syria's embattled White Helmets, volunteer rescue brigades in Syria who are often targeted by the ruling regime. Typical group chats are managed by one person who is identified as the administrator of the chat. If WhatsApp were to comply with a government request-in the USA or abroad-agents could join any private group and listen along.

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.

Well, what this feature does is whenever someone mentions you in a group chat, you are notified about it.

According to experts at the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, it's possible for spies to enter a group chat without your permission. The new feature will allow the admin to demote his fellow without removing him from the group. The platform said it released a fix for the flaws. WhatsApp has yet to take their advice.

Researchers found in November that deleted messages were actually still on the device, and could easily be accessed through the app's Settings. Otherwise, they'd be wise to keep a vigilant eye out for any new entrants sliding into their private conversations.

WhatsApp Group chats are not secure, a new report has revealed