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Researchers claim to find a way to infiltrate WhatsApp Group chats

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Research carried out by a German cryptography team found that a flaw in how the app interacts with WhatsApp's severs, controlled by Facebook, allows anyone with access to those servers to easily insert new people into a private group chat.

While the flaws could allow an attack to gain full control of group chats on the application, any would-be-attacker would still first need to take control of the WhatsApp server in order to exploit the security flaws.

The researchers detailed the findings at the Real World Crypto security conference in Zurich on Wednesday, according to Wired. They added that "WhatsApp doesn't use any authentication mechanism" when a new member is added to the group and this is something its own servers can spoof as well. 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. As per the group who belong to Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, illegal hackers can join groups without the knowledge of the group administrator using the control they have on the server. 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.

In the paper "More is Less: On the End-to-End Security of Group Chats in Signal, WhatsApp, and Threema", released last week, researchers reveal flaws that counter the platforms' claims that their group chats are secure.

Existing members are notified when new people are added to a WhatsApp group.

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

However, Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos downplayed the security risks on Twitter, noting that there "isn't a secret way" into WhatsApp group chats. They should utilize the Message Admin catch to post a message or offer media to the gathering. "This means the privacy of your end-to-end encrypted group chat is only guaranteed if you actually trust the WhatsApp server".

It's not a problem that will impact most users, but chat apps like Signal and WhatsApp have been used for private conversations from everyone ranging from politicians to government dissenters. "And if not, the value of encryption is very little", he added.

He says that users would be notified when a new person enters the group, which prevents "silent eavesdropping".

Managing a WhatsApp group is going to be easier now.

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