WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging service in the world, with Telegram appearing as one of the main alternatives. By the way, both platforms have reiterated the security of the conversations against the encryption, but now this is in check due to the failures in SS7.
In two new videos, a team of hackers leads us to question our sense of security.
The same advanced end-to-end encryption process is also employed by Telegram services. In practice, this means that only who sent, and who received the message, will be able to access their content and effectively see what is contained in it. At least, this is the current theory.
How safe is WhatsApp? Or the Telegram?
This same security was widely publicized by both platforms. So for a long time there were no greater reasons to worry. However, we now have a group of hackers which has published two gruesome and worrying videos for both WhatsApp and Telegram users.
The group states, among other things, that it has access to all the conversations of anyone. Whether you use one or the other instant messaging service. In addition, the entire process, or at least its results, has been posted on Google's video platform YouTube.
Without worrying much about the "advanced encryption" of WhatsApp or Telegram, the two videos show a similar "attack" process. The exploitation of a failure in communication standards via wireless and the phone number of the users. It is, therefore, transversal to both platforms.
Exploiting a security hole in the SS7 protocol
More specifically, this is a vulnerability that misleads operators. This is a security gap in the SS7 protocol. Thus, using the same telephone number as the visa and potential victim, the hackers gain access to the contents of your Telegram or WhatsApp account.
Note that each user's WhatsApp and Telegram account is identified primarily by their telephone number. Therefore, the hackers they just have to get past the phone number that belongs to the account they want to hack into. In other words, all they need to know is their number.
From then on, the hackers can access the account of the other person. This means that they can access all content, and if they want, save all their conversations. Something that becomes perfectly clear in both videos, affecting WhatsApp and Telegram in the same way.
In addition, the hackers they also end up receiving the account confirmation SMS. The verification codes, unique and sent by the platforms to the user's mobile device. Again, the same gap in which they assume the telephone number of the targeted account and potential victim.
All the hackers need is the phone number
This is the conclusion to be drawn here. Before the current status quo, this method only requires your contact number. From there, they can even make a backup of your data and conversations to the cloud as an easy and effective way to copy and save all information.
The only positive note is that WhatsApp and Telegram warn when an account is being used on a new device. Therefore, if you receive an alert that your account is being used on some smartphone or tablet you do not know, please do not ignore the warning.
Vulnerabilities in SS7 allow interception of IMs as well. Check out these videos (from 2016 !!!) showing what it would look like on WhatsApp: https://t.co/eZfy7Wo0oN and also on the Telegram: https://t.co/GpndcdEkU6
- Fabio Assolini (@assolini) June 6, 2019
Already according to the BGR the problem lies in the protocol SS7 or "Signaling System # 7 ". It is a global network system that is under the control of telecommunications companies. Something that ends up hampering a quick bridging of the gap and effective resolution of the problem.
Keeping the risk portrayed in the videos
Incidentally, this is the standard of networks used around the world to connect one mobile device to another. Therefore, access to WhatsApp and Telegram data may be only a "minor evil" in view of the possibility of listening to calls. Or send messages on your behalf, among other scenarios.
However, this risk is retained in both videos. At least until the vulnerabilities and glitches present in the SS7 protocol are not resolved. We can not fail to stress the seriousness of this gap, especially for the interception of high-level communications.
Finally, given the seriousness of the case, we will closely monitor its developments.