Hacking, cybersecurity, WhatsApp, Check Point Research | Homeland Security Newswire

CybersecuritySerious vulnerabilities discovered in WhatsApp, allowing fake attribution, message manipulation

Published 8 August 2018

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, has more than 1.5 billion users with more than one billion groups and 65 billion messages sent every day. With so much chatter, the potential for online scams, unfounded rumors, and fake news is huge. Cybersecurity firm Check Point Research says that it does not help if threat actors have an additional weapon in their arsenal to use the platform for their malicious intentions.

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, has more than 1.5 billion users with more than one billion groups and 65 billion messages sent every day. With so much chatter, the potential for online scams, unfounded rumors, and fake news is huge.

Cybersecurity firm Check Point Research says that it does not help if threat actors have an additional weapon in their arsenal to use the platform for their malicious intentions.

Check Point Research recently unveiled new vulnerabilities in the popular messaging application, vulnerabilities which could allow threat actors to intercept and manipulate messages sent in both private and group conversations, giving attackers immense power to create and spread misinformation from what appear to be trusted sources.

Our team of Check Point Research researchers discovered three possible methods of attack exploiting this vulnerability – all of which involve social engineering tactics to fool end-users. A threat actor can:

1. 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.

2. Alter the text of someone else’s reply, essentially putting words in their mouth.

3. Send a private message to another group participant which is disguised as a public message for all, so when the targeted individual responds, it’s visible to everyone in the conversation.

Check Point Research notes that, following the process of Responsible Disclosure, the company informed WhatsApp of the findings.

“From Check Point Research’s view, we believe these vulnerabilities to be of the utmost importance and require attention,” the company says.

See full technical analysis here.