How to Manipulate WhatsApp Conversations

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Marie-Ange Demory
@marie-angedemory
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support.microsoft.com

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According to the data, WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, has over 1,5 billion users in over 180 countries. The average user checks WhatsApp more than 23 times a day and the number of WhatsApp users in the US is expected to rise to 25,6 million by 2021. Given the number of users and conversations, the potential for online scams, rumors and fake news is huge. The bad guys have a weapon in their arsenal to exploit the messaging platform for their malicious purposes.
How to manipulate whatsapp conversations so? Let's find out together



How to manipulate WhatsApp conversations

WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption ensures that only you and the person you are communicating with can read what is being sent and no one else, not even WhatsApp. However, the research team of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., the leading solution provider of cybersecurity globally, it managed to decrypt WhatsApp Web source code and successfully decrypt WhatsApp traffic. During this process he translated all WhatsApp web functions into python and created the Burpsuit extension to investigate WhatsApp traffic and to find new vulnerabilities.

Towards the end of 2018, Check Point therefore notified WhatsApp the vulnerability present in the popular messaging application. The Check Point Research team looked at three possible attack methods that exploit this vulnerability, all of which involve social engineering tactics to deceive end users.

A hacker can in fact:
- Using the "Quote" function in a group conversation to change the sender's identity, even if this person is not part of the group.
- Edit the reply text someone else's, essentially putting words in their mouth.
- Send a private message to another participant of the group which, however, seems like a public message for everyone. So when the individual in question responds, he is visible to everyone in the conversation.



How to manipulate WhatsApp conversations. Conclusions

WhatsApp fixed the third vulnerability, but the Check Point Research team found that it is still possible to manipulate the cited messages and spread false information from what appears to be reliable sources.


According to the Check Point Research team, these vulnerabilities are critical and require attention. To demonstrate the severity of this vulnerability in WhatsApp, a tool has been created that allows you to decrypt WhatsApp communication and alter messages.


During Black Hat USA 2019, Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerability Research at Check Point Research outlined possible attack methods regarding vulnerabilities and what hackers can do.

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