WhatsApp chaps rapped for crap app group chat zap: Infosec bods find a way to nuke messages, fix issued

Good news for Check Point; less so for blabbermouths with regrets


Security investigators say they have uncovered a vulnerability in WhatsApp that will gladden the heart of anyone who's ever wondered how to permanently wipe that incriminating group chat.

Researchers from infosec biz Check Point say they have found a flaw that lets a helpful malicious so-and-so "deliver a destructive group chat message that causes a swift and complete crash of the entire WhatsApp application for all members of the group chat."

Not only that, but the crash is "so severe that users are forced to uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp on their device". Having done so, they will find that the group chat "cannot be restored after the crash occurs and would need to be deleted in order to stop the crash-loop," thus "causing the loss of all the group’s chat history, indefinitely."

The bad good news is Whatsapp has already deleted patched this helpful feature vulnerability. Version 2.19.246 and later are not vulnerable to crashing the app and destroying your group chats through Check Point's method.

According to Check Point research, Nicolas Cage a "bad actor" gains entry to the target group and then edits "specific message parameters" using their web browser's debug tool. This triggers the unstoppable crash loop.

Using an example featuring Chrome's built-in DevTools, Check Point provided a video to illustrate the bug:

Youtube Video

WhatsApp thanked Check Point in a statement for reporting the vuln through its bug bounty programme.

"WhatsApp greatly values the work of the technology community to help us maintain strong security for our users globally," said Whatsapp software engineer Ehren Kret. "Thanks to the responsible submission from Check Point to our bug bounty program, we quickly resolved this issue for all WhatsApp apps in mid-September. We have also recently added new controls to prevent people from being added to unwanted groups to avoid communication with untrusted parties all together."

Giving the Facebook-owned chat app's operators a pat on the head, Check Point's Oded Vanunu beamed: "WhatsApp responded quickly and responsibly to deploy the mitigation against exploitation of this vulnerability."

Back in May this year, Whatsapp was the subject of a zero-day exploit that allowed the remote injection of spyware onto a target's phone through the use of a booby-trapped voice call that didn't even need to be answered. A duly enraged Facebook filed a US lawsuit against noted spyware purveyor NSO Group in October.

Last year Check Point discovered that it was possible to manipulate Whatsapp messages. Today's disclosures build on its earlier work, the company said. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • World’s smallest remote-controlled robots are smaller than a flea
    So small, you can't feel it crawl

    Video Robot boffins have revealed they've created a half-millimeter wide remote-controlled walking robot that resembles a crab, and hope it will one day perform tasks in tiny crevices.

    In a paper published in the journal Science Robotics , the boffins said they had in mind applications like minimally invasive surgery or manipulation of cells or tissue in biological research.

    With a round tick-like body and 10 protruding legs, the smaller-than-a-flea robot crab can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. The machines can move at an average speed of half their body length per second - a huge challenge at such a small scale, said the boffins.

    Continue reading
  • IBM-powered Mayflower robo-ship once again tries to cross Atlantic
    Whaddayaknow? It's made it more than halfway to America

    The autonomous Mayflower ship is making another attempt at a transatlantic journey from the UK to the US, after engineers hauled the vessel to port and fixed a technical glitch. 

    Built by ProMare, a non-profit organization focused on marine research, and IBM, the Mayflower set sail on April 28, beginning its over 3,000-mile voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. But after less than two weeks, the crewless ship broke down and was brought back to port in Horta in the Azores, 850 miles off the coast of Portugal, for engineers to inspect.

    With no humans onboard, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) can only rely on its numerous cameras, sensors, equipment controllers, and various bits of hardware running machine-learning algorithms to survive. The computer-vision software helps it navigate through choppy waters and avoid objects that may be in its path.

    Continue reading
  • Revealed: The semi-secret list of techs Beijing really really wishes it didn't have to import
    I think we can all agree that China is not alone in wishing it had an alternative to Microsoft Windows

    China has identified "chokepoints" that leave it dependent on foreign countries for key technologies, and the US-based Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) claims to have translated and published key document that name the technologies about which Beijing is most worried.

    CSET considered 35 articles published in Science and Technology Daily from April until July 2018. Each story detailed a different “chokepoint” or tech import dependency that China faces. The pieces are complete with insights from Chinese academics, industry insiders and other experts.

    CSET said the items, which offer a rare admission of economic and technological vulnerability , have hitherto “largely unnoticed in the non-Chinese speaking world.”

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022