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WhatsApp Messages Can be Traced Without Diluting end-to-end Encryption

WhatsApp has maintained that allowing traceability will dilute its end-to-end encryption which ensures that only the sender of the message and the recipient can see the message – not even WhatsApp itself

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whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE - The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras on Wednesday stressed that the issue can be easily resolved without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.

“If WhatsApp says it is not technically possible to show the originator of the message, I can show that it is possible,” said V. Kamakoti, while delivering a lecture at Indian Council of World Affairs here.

“When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message. So the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient. When that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient,” he said, adding that as per court ruling, those who forward a harmful message can also be held responsible in certain cases.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

“In this way, you do not need to break end-to-end encryption and infringe the privacy of anyone and yet make the messages traceable when the investigating agencies want to find out. And this is what we have projected to WhatsApp,” he said.

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India started pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages after several lynching cases last year were linked to rumours spread on the messaging service.

WhatsApp has maintained that allowing traceability will dilute its end-to-end encryption which ensures that only the sender of the message and the recipient can see the message – not even WhatsApp itself. (IANS)

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No User Data Affected From New MP4 File Bug, Claims WhatsApp

The RCE vulnerability may allow hackers to perform the attack remotely without any sort of authentication

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whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE - The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

WhatsApp on Monday said no user data was affected owing to a new bug where a specially-crafted malicious MP4 file may have used the vulnerability to trigger the remote code execution (RCE) and denial of service (DoS) cyber attack when downloaded by a user on both Android and iOS devices.

Reports on Sunday claimed that hackers can use the WhatsApp vulnerability to deploy the malware on the user’s device to steal sensitive files and snoop on them — the way an Israeli software Pegasus developed by cyber intelligence company NSO Group did by exploiting the video calling system in the Facebook-owned to snoop on 1,400 selected users globally and in India, including human rights activists and journalists.

“WhatsApp is constantly working to improve the security of our service. We make public, reports on potential issues we have fixed consistent with industry-best practices. In this instance, there is no reason to believe users were impacted,” a company spokesperson said in a statement shared with IANS.

The micro-blogging platform has already issued a security update on this bug.

Facebook had earlier issued an advisory, saying “a stack-based buffer overflow could be triggered in WhatsApp by sending a specially-crafted MP4 file to a WhatsApp user.”

“The issue was present in parsing the elementary stream metadata of an MP4 file and could result in a DoS or RCE.”

Whatsapp
Security experts have warned that blaming Whatsapp for the spyware would not be right. Pixabay

The vulnerability is classified as “critical” severity that affected an unknown code block of the component MP4 File Handler in WhatsApp.

The Pegasus-NSO Group issue snowballed into a political one, with the Indian government directing WhatsApp to submit a reply over the matter.

The government also denied either purchasing or planning to purchase the infamous software in question.

Also Read: Social Media Giant Facebook Still a Fertile Ground for Promoting Anti-vaccine Posts

The new vulnerability is found in Android versions prior to 2.19.274; iOS versions prior to 2.19.100; Enterprise Client versions prior to 2.25.3; Business for Android versions prior to 2.19.104; Business for iOS versions prior to 2.19.100; and Windows Phone versions before and including 2.18.368.

The RCE vulnerability may allow hackers to perform the attack remotely without any sort of authentication. (IANS)