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WhatsApp Partners With DEF To Train Community Leaders in Order To Tackle Fake News

The teams will also cover key states such as, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tripura and Jharkhand by March 2019, the statement said

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WhatsApp
WhatsApp working on fingerprint authentication for chats: Report. Pixabay

Aiming to address the challenge of misinformation during the upcomimg Rajasthan Assembly polls, WhatsApp on Monday conducted training for community leaders here, in partnership with the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), the Facebook-owned mobile messaging platform said.

The education workshop encouraged WhatsApp users to see themselves as “agents of change” by addressing socio-behavioural change and empowered them to spot false news.

The training will also enable them to differentiate between rumours and opinions; shared subsequent steps to tackle instances of false news and tips to stay safe on WhatsApp.

“WhatsApp is proud to have played a part in helping millions of people in Rajasthan to freely connect with their loved ones anywhere in the world. These trainings are a key part of our strategy to help people stay safe and limit the spread of harmful rumours this election season” said Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager, WhatsApp, in a statement.

The curriculum further delved into how users can contact fact-checking organisations like Altnews and Boom Live to accurately verify information when they are in doubt.

The training was attended by over 100 participants including from local government administrations, law enforcement authorities, college students, NGOs and community leaders who are dedicated to the technological empowerment of their society, especially villages and semi-urban centre.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

“While the problem of misinformation is not restricted to rural areas alone, it is the rural population that majorly lacks access to alternative news sources for sake of verification,” said Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, DEF.

“We see education as the only solution to this problem, and we know that when we teach them some basic verification techniques, they’re going to tell at least two other people about it, creating a ripple effect and potentially fighting misinformation.”

Additionally, WhatsApp and DEF will organise workshops as a part of their Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC), where they will conduct training sessions targeted at grassroots communities in rural areas across five states in India, the company said.

In August, WhatsApp was asked by the central government to take steps to stop the spread of disinformation on its platform.

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WhatsApp roped in New Delhi-based non-profit DEF and initiated a series of educational workshops in 10 key election states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana.

The teams will also cover key states such as, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tripura and Jharkhand by March 2019, the statement said. (IANS)

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Researchers Reveal Vulnerabilities that Allowed Hackers to Manipulate Images on WhatsApp and Telegram

WhatsApp saves files to external storage automatically, while Telegram does so when the "Save to Gallery" feature is enabled

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Hackers, Images, Whatsapp
The security flaw, dubbed "Media File Jacking", affected WhatsApp for Android by default. Pixabay

If you thought instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption give you rock-solid security, think again. Researchers from cyber-security firm Symantec on Monday revealed vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to manipulate the images and audio files you receive on these platforms.

The security flaw, dubbed “Media File Jacking”, affected WhatsApp for Android by default, and Telegram for Android if certain features were enabled, Symantec researchers said in a blog post.

According to the researchers, WhatsApp saves files to external storage automatically, while Telegram does so when the “Save to Gallery” feature is enabled. However, neither apps have any system in place to protect users from a Media File Jacking attack, the researchers from Symantec’s Modern OS Security team explained.

Attackers could exploit this vulnerability to scam victims in various ways.

Hackers, Images, Whatsapp
If you thought instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption give you rock-solid security, think again. Pixabay

“If the security flaw is exploited, a malicious attacker could misuse and manipulate sensitive information such as personal photos and videos, corporate documents, invoices, and voice memos,” wrote Software Engineer Alon Gat and Yair Amit, Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer, Modern OS Security, Symantec.

Giving example of image manipulation, the researchers said a seemingly innocent, but actually malicious, app downloaded by a user could manipulate personal photos in near-real time and without the victim knowing.

The app runs in the background and performs a “Media File Jacking attack” while the victim uses WhatsApp. It monitors for photos received through the app, identifies faces in photos, and replaces them with something else, such as other faces or objects.

“A WhatsApp user may send a family photo to one of their contacts, but what the recipient sees is actually a modified photo. While this attack may seem trivial and just a nuisance, it shows the feasibility of manipulating images on the fly,” said the blog post.

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Using the same vulnerability, the attackers could make payment manipulation, audio message spoofing or spread fake news.

“In one of the most damaging Media File Jacking attacks, a malicious actor can manipulate an invoice sent by a vendor to a customer, to trick the customer into making a payment to an illegitimate account,” Gat and Amit wrote.

“The Media File Jacking threat is especially concerning in light of the common perception that the new generation of IM (instant messaging) apps are immune to content manipulation and privacy risks, thanks to the utilisation of security mechanisms like end-to-end encryption,” they added.

Hackers, Images, Whatsapp
Researchers from cyber-security firm Symantec on Monday revealed vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to manipulate the images and audio files. Pixabay

Reports in May revealed that a bug in WhatsApp’s audio call feature allowed hackers to install spyware onto Android and iOS phones just by calling the target. The spyware was reportedly developed by the Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group.

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WhatsApp had said it identified and “promptly” fixed the vulnerability that could enable an attacker to insert and execute code on mobile devices. (IANS)