The presentation discusses the reverse engineering of WhatsApp encryption and the vulnerabilities discovered that could allow for message interception and manipulation.
- WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users and 1 billion groups, making it a large infrastructure susceptible to manipulation.
- WhatsApp uses two methods for encryption and communication.
- The presentation discusses the reverse engineering of WhatsApp web source code and the successful decryption of WhatsApp traffic.
- New vulnerabilities were discovered that could allow for message interception and manipulation, including sending private messages disguised as public messages, altering the identity of the sender in group conversations, and altering the text of someone else's reply.
- The presentation includes a live demo of message manipulation.
- The business logic of WhatsApp, with its constant flow of messages, makes it easy for manipulation to occur.
- Fake news and manipulation on WhatsApp have had real-world consequences, such as casualties.
- The presentation highlights the importance of understanding the vulnerabilities in messaging applications and the need for increased security measures.
The presenters demonstrated a live demo of message manipulation, where they created a story of someone killing Spongebob and attempted to manipulate the message to blame Patrick. They showed how easy it was to alter the message and change the identity of the sender, even if that person was not a member of the group. This illustrates the potential danger of message manipulation on WhatsApp and the need for increased security measures.
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. WhatsApp end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you're communicating with can read what's sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. However, we managed to reverse engineer WhatsApp web source code and successfully decrypted WhatsApp traffic. During the process we translated all WhatsApp web functions to python and created Burpsuit extension that you can use to investigate WhatsApp traffic and extend in order to find vulnerabilities.During the process we unveiled new vulnerabilities that 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 observed three possible methods of attack exploiting this vulnerability – all of which involve social engineering tactics to fool end-users. A threat actor can: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.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.