WhatsApp and Telegram flaw puts billions of users’ data at stake, report

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July 18, 2019
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WhatsApp and Telegram are the names of messaging apps everyone is familiar with. We all use them on a daily basis so they are more like our daily driver and we are way too much dependable on them. But recently something crazy has happened. A few days back, a cybersecurity company named Symantec has come up with a detailed explanation of both of these platform being “exposed and manipulated by malicious actors“ through “media file jacking.”

Though WhatsApp and Telegram both claim themselves to be secure messaging services with end-to-end encryption. The vulnerability exploits the short gap of time between smartphone writing a file (photo, video, etc) to the external storage disk and then displaying the information in the UI of the application itself. This time-lapse may seem short but this window is more than enough for an attacker/hacker to manipulate and misuse all the information in no time. They can easily replace a file before the user interacts with it.

See also: Over 25 million Android phones compromised due to hidden WhatsApp malware

Data that is being saved to the internal storage cannot be exploited by any third party app, but the data that is being stored on the external storage can be exploited. By default external data storage is selected for WhatsApp and for Telegram it is as a user setting.

WhatsApp has responded to all this “had looked closely at this issue and it’s similar to previous questions about mobile device storage impacting the app ecosystem. WhatsApp follows current best practices provided by operating systems for media storage and looks forward to providing updates in line with Android’s ongoing development. The suggested changes here could both create privacy complications for our users and limit how photos and files could be shared.“ Telegram did not offer a response to this.

By the time this gets fixed by the developers, Android’s WhatsApp and Telegram users can change their settings and make sure that the media files are not saved on the external storage.

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