Israeli cyber security firm Check Point has claimed that WhatsApp can be hacked allowing the attacker to intercept and manipulate messages sent by those in a group or private conversation, which the messaging platform strongly denied.
Check Point, in a blog underlining the vulnerability, said it has already informed WhatsApp of its findings.
When contacted, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We carefully reviewed this issue a year ago and it is false to suggest there is a vulnerability with the security we provide on WhatsApp”.
“The scenario described here is merely the mobile equivalent of altering replies in an email thread to make it look like something a person didn’t write. We need to be mindful that addressing concerns raised by these researchers could make WhatsApp less private – such as storing information about the origin of messages,” the spokesperson said.
In its blog post, Check Point claimed that its “researchers have discovered a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allows a threat actor to intercept and manipulate messages sent by those in a group or private conversation”.
It added that by doing so, the “attackers can put themselves in a position of immense power to not only steer potential evidence in their favour, but also create and spread misinformation”.
WhatsApp, which has about 400 million users in India, has drawn flak for abuse of its platform for spread of fake messages and misinformation.
Last year, fake news circulated on WhatsApp incited mob fury that led to several instances of lynching across India.
The IT ministry had said that digital platforms cannot escape their responsibility for such rampant abuse and needed to find originators of provocative messages. It had also warned that in the absence of adequate checks, it will treat the messaging platform as ‘abettor’ of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.
WhatsApp, on its part, has also undertaken campaigns in newspapers, television and radio to provide users with easy tips to spot fake news.
The Indian government has been insisting on WhatsApp developing a mechanism to trace origin of messages in cases where the platform is misused by terrorists and ‘rogue’ elements.
However, the Facebook-owned company has so far, resisted any move that will undermine end-to-end encryption and affect privacy protection for users. PTI PRS SR MBI