Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

WhatsApp yet to fix flaws identified by Check Point

Check Point Software Technologies an Israeli company that provides security for computer networks said its researchers found three potential ways to alter conversations WhatsApp flaw 'puts words in your mouth'
Emmett Howard | 10 August, 2019, 17:07

Security firm Check Point Research has discovered a new glitch in the popular messaging app WhatsApp, which allows hackers to obstruct and manipulate messages sent in both private and group chat windows. Researchers of Check Point Security Dikla Barda, Roman Zaikin and Oded Vanunu disclosed three methods of exploiting these flaws in Whatsapp.

Digital Trends reached out to WhatsApp to comment on the recent security vulnerabilities and to see if the remaining issues will be fixed, and this story will be updated upon a response.

In a blog post detailing their findings, Check Point Software Technologies, an Israeli company, said the security flaw means people can edit someone's reply, "essentially putting words in their mouth". The researchers explained that towards the end of 2018, they notified WhatsApp about the latest vulnerabilities which give attackers the control to make and deploy misinformation from what seems to be trusted sources. While creating an extension to Burp Suite, a web application testing tool, using the web functions they had found, to help with finding vulnerabilities in WhatsApp, the researchers found some vulnerabilities.

Hackers can change the content of the message in the quoted text.

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Why it matters: According to industry watchers, WhatsApp is home to over 1.5 billion users in 180 countries who depend on it for daily messaging, with some people checking the app more than 23 times a day.

"You can completely change what someone says", Mr Vanunu said.

Also uncovered was a flaw that allows a user to send a private message to another group participant disguised as a public message to all - meaning that when the targeted individual responded, their reply was visible to everyone in the conversation. Facebook was capable of fix that one; however, worryingly, the corporate says it isn't practical to fix the other two WhatsApp security flaws, although it was instructed about them a year ago.

In particular, the encryption technology used by WhatsApp made it extremely hard - perhaps impossible - for the company to monitor and verify the authenticity of messages being sent by users. Meanwhile, a participant in the group can access decrypted versions of messages while Facebook cannot intervene. Surprisingly, it appears that these same vulnerabilities are still exploitable despite that it was revealed to WhatsApp a year ago. "We need to be mindful that addressing concerns raised by these researchers could make WhatsApp less private", the spokesperson added.

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