A new vulnerability surfaced in WhatsApp that can potentially allow hackers to manipulate messages. Any kind of message can be intercepted and the identity of the sender can be changed along with the text content of the messages.
As of early 2018, the Facebook-owned messaging application, WhatsApp, has over 1.5 billion users with over one billion groups and 65 billion messages sent every day. With so much chatter, the potential for online scams, rumours and fake news is huge. It doesn’t help then, if threat actors have an additional weapon in their arsenal to leverage the platform for their malicious intentions.
The vulnerability was discovered by Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Research. It also posted a video showcasing how the vulnerability can be exploited. With this security flaw, attackers can easily create and spread misinformation and make it appear as if it came from authentic sources. The firm was able to capture an outgoing message from WhatsApp and decrypt it. Then they could alter the contents at will and then encrypt it to send it forward.
Check Out What’s app Vulnerabilities :
The Check Point team observed three possible methods of attack exploiting this vulnerability – all of which involve social engineering tactics to fool end-users. A threat actor can:
- Use the ‘quote’ feature in a group conversation to change the identity of the sender, even if that person is not a member of the group.
- Alter the text of someone else’s reply, essentially putting words in their mouth.
- Send a private message to another group participant that is disguised as a public message for all, so when the targeted individual responds, it’s visible to everyone in the conversation.
Check Point was able to reverse-engineer WhatsApp’s encryption algorithm. By decrypting the data, the researchers got access to all the parameters being exchanged. This allowed them to alter these parameters to whatever they liked.
The firm says that it has informed WhatsApp about this vulnerability. Although the flaw has been partially fixed according to a report by Forbes, Check Point says that other issues need to be addressed soon.