Whatsapp servers can be compromised to add people to private groups

Creepy hackers could secretly eavesdrop on your private WhatsApp group chats, experts claim

WhatsApp is an instant messaging platform which is preferred by millions of users across the globe, thanks to the clean user interface.

WhatsApp is reportedly testing a new button in group chats that will allow one administrator to "demote" other administrators, without first deleting them from the group and then adding again as normal participants. WhatsApp, however, has turned down the claim.

The researchers detailed the findings at the Real World Crypto security conference in Zurich on Wednesday, according to Wired.

"Anyone who controls the app's servers could insert new people into private group chats without needing admin permission", the report said, citing cryptographers.

WhatsApp recently started testing another new group chat feature called Restricted Groups, which lets you force everyone else in your group to stop chatting.

WhatsApp does notify members of a group chat when a new user joins, so they may realize that something suspicious is going on, but they may also assume that the new person was invited by the group administrator. They also point out that the lack of any authentication mechanism to deal with the invitation for new members also worsens the security. WhatsApp is a widely used messenger and is available in more than 60 different languages which include 10 Indian languages.

When WhatsApp added end-to-end encryption to every conversation for its billion users two years ago, the mobile messaging giant significantly raised the bar for the privacy of digital communications worldwide.


The only people who can get access to WhatsApp servers are staff and governments if they are taking some legal actions.

On the surface level, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, looks to have a pretty big security flaw. "And if not, the value of encryption is very little", researcher Paul Rösler was quoted saying in the report.

Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, responding to the report on Twitter, said, "Read the Wired article today about WhatsApp - scary headline!"

WhatsApp representatives told Wired there would be no fixes as a result of the research and that notifications of new chat additions are warning enough.

If you've ever been in a WhatsApp group chat before, then you know that there will always be one user who is the admin.

Once a person is added, everyone in the chat automatically shares secret keys with that user. So to keep yourself safe from prying eyes of someone who shouldn't be seeing your messages, keep an eye on who is added to the group. Additionally, shared messages can be encrypted too. All group members will see that the attacker has joined. "There is no way to suppress this message".

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