Thursday July 18, 2019

Study: Whatsapp has a Positive Impact on Psychological Health

For the study, the research team picked 200 users, 158 women and 42 men with an average age of 24, found that the average reported daily use of WhatsApp was around 55 minutes

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FILE - The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

Good news for the people who spend most of the time on social media, as researchers have found that spending time on digital platforms such as WhatsApp, is good for our well-being. The study, published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, found that the text-based messaging app, which offers users group chat functions, has a positive impact on psychological health.

The research found that the more time people spent on WhatsApp per day, the less lonely they were and the higher their self-esteem as a result of feeling closer to friends and family.

“There’s lots of debate about whether spending time on social media is bad for our well-being but we’ve found it might not be as bad as we think. The more time people spent on WhatsApp, the more this related to them feeling close to their friends and family and they perceived these relationships to be good quality,” said Linda Kaye, Professor at Edge Hill University.

“As well as this, the more closely bonded these friendships were and the more people felt affiliated with their WhatsApp groups, the more this was related positively to their self-esteem and social competence,” Kaye said.

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For the study, the research team picked 200 users, 158 women and 42 men with an average age of 24, found that the average reported daily use of WhatsApp was around 55 minutes, with people using it because of its popularity and group chat function. Pixabay

According to the researchers, group affiliation also meant that WhatsApp users were less lonely. It seems that using WhatsApp to connect with our close friends is favourable for aspects of our well-being.

For the study, the research team picked 200 users, 158 women and 42 men with an average age of 24, found that the average reported daily use of WhatsApp was around 55 minutes, with people using it because of its popularity and group chat function.

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“The findings show how including factors relating to social bonding capital is highly pertinent within this field as a way of understanding how technology usage relates to psychosocial well-being.

“It gives rise to the notion that social technology such as WhatsApp may stimulate existing relationships and opportunities for communication, thereby enhancing aspects of the users’ positive well-being,” Kaye 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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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.

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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)