Online Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram are not as secure as they appear to be. Even after running on the latest technology, they are not much capable to safeguard your files after they have been received on your phone. Today, researchers from Symantec explain how hackers could use a malicious app to subtly alter media files sent through the services.
On the Android platform, apps can choose either the internal storage or external storage to save media such as pictures and videos. However, if we talk particularly about the WhatsApp and Telegram, they use external storage to save media on the phone.
According to the researchers, the malware with external storage access could be used to access WhatsApp and Telegram media files, maybe even before the user sees them. In case, if a user downloads a malicious app, and then receives a photo on WhatsApp, a hacker could manipulate the image without the receiver ever noticing. A hacker could theoretically alter an outgoing multimedia message as well.
This technique is called “Media File Jacking.” From the past few years, it’s a known issue and a trade-off between privacy and accessibility for messaging apps on Android. With the external storage excess, any apps with malicious content can excess files and media without even tracked by the user.
On this issue, Telegram did not immediately respond to a request for comment. While a WhatsApp spokesperson said changing its storage system would limit the service’s ability to share media files, and even introduce new privacy issues. “WhatsApp has looked closely at this issue and it’s similar to previous questions about mobile device storage impacting the app ecosystem,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
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