Reported “backdoor” in WhatsApp is in fact a feature, defenders say

WhatsApp logoThe Guardian roiled security professionals everywhere on Friday when it published an article claiming a backdoor in Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service allows attackers to intercept and read encrypted messages. It's not a backdoor—at least as that term is defined by most security experts. Most would probably agree it's not even a vulnerability. Rather, it's a limitation in what cryptography can do in an app that caters to more than 1 billion users.

At issue is the way WhatsApp behaves when an end user's encryption key changes. By default, the app will use the new key to encrypt messages without ever informing the sender of the change. By enabling a security setting, users can configure WhatsApp to notify the sender that a recently transmitted message used a new key.

Critics of Friday's Guardian post, and most encryption practitioners, argue such behavior is common in encryption apps and often a necessary requirement. Among other things, it lets existing WhatsApp users who buy a new phone continue an ongoing conversation thread.

Tobias Boelter, a Ph.D. candidate researching cryptography and security at the University of California at Berkeley, told the Guardian that the failure to obtain a sender's explicit permission before using the new key challenged the often-repeated claim that not even WhatsApp or its owner Facebook can read encrypted messages sent through the service. He first reported the weakness to WhatsApp last April. In an interview on Friday, he stood by the backdoor characterization.

"At the time I discovered it, I thought it was not a big deal... and they will fix it," he told Ars. "The fact that they still haven't fixed it yet makes me wonder why."

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: security, WhatsApp

Comments
Add comment

Your name:
Sign in with:
or
Your comment:


Enter code:

E-mail (not required)
E-mail will not be disclosed to the third party


Last news

 
Consumer group recommends iPhone 8 over anniversary model
 
LTE connections wherever you go and instant waking should come to regular PCs, too
 
That fiction is slowly becoming a reality
 
The Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC includes the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem
 
Human moderators can help make YouTube a safer place for everyone
 
Google says Progressive Web Apps are the future of app-like webpages
 
All 2018 models to sport the 'notch'
 
The biggest exchange in South Korea, where the BTC/KRW pair is at $14,700 now
The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
The evolution of the successful smartphone, now with a waterproof body and USB Type-C
February 7, 2017 /
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S - a tablet with the Windows-keyboard
The first Windows-tablet with the 12-inch display Super AMOLED
June 7, 2016 /
Keyboards for iOS
Ten iOS keyboards review
July 18, 2015 /
Samsung E1200 Mobile Phone Review
A cheap phone with a good screen
March 8, 2015 / 4
Creative Sound Blaster Z sound card review
Good sound for those who are not satisfied with the onboard solution
September 25, 2014 / 2
Samsung Galaxy Gear: Smartwatch at High Price
The first smartwatch from Samsung - almost a smartphone with a small body
December 19, 2013 /
 
 

News Archive

 
 
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      




Poll

Do you use microSD card with your phone?
or leave your own version in comments (4)