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WhatsApp, Telegram Files Could be Hacked – ‘Media File Jacking’

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‘Media File Jacking’ is the new buzzword phrase that describes a security flaw and enables hackers to manipulate images and audio files on various platforms, and in this case ‘end-to-end encryption’ apps WhatsApp and Telegram on Android. Symantec’s Modern OS Security team explained ‘neither apps have any system in place to protect users from a Media File Jacking attack’.

“If the security flaw is exploited, a malicious attacker could misuse and manipulate sensitive information such as personal photos and videos, corporate documents, invoices, and voice memos,” wrote Software Engineer Alon Gat and Yair Amit, Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer, Modern OS Security, Symantec.

Image and payment manipulation are arguably the most damaging Media File Jacking threats. For example, in one of the most damaging Media File Jacking attacks, a malicious actor can manipulate an invoice sent by a vendor to a customer, to trick the customer into making a payment to an illegitimate account. As in the previous scenario, an app that appears to be legitimate but is in fact malicious, watches for PDF invoice files received via WhatsApp, then programmatically swaps the displayed bank account information in the invoice with that of the bad actor. The customer receives the invoice, which they were expecting to begin with, but has no knowledge that it’s been altered. By the time the trick is exposed, the money may be long gone. To make matters worse, the invoice hack could be broadly distributed in a non-targeted way, looking for any invoices to manipulate, affecting multiple victims who use IM apps like WhatsApp to conduct business, explained the team.

We detail below how to mitigate these threats:

Mitigation

Disabling the storage of media files in external storage

IM app users can mitigate the risk Media File Jacking by disabling the feature that saves media files to external storage. We show how to do this in WhatsApp and Telegram below.

WhatsApp: Settings -> Chats -> Media Visibility

What's App

Telegram: Settings -> Chat Settings -> Save to Gallery

Telegram

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By Joanne Carter

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website— TheAppWhisperer.com— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said.
Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London.
Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - TheAppWhispererPrintSales.com has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art.
Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK.
She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: joanne@theappwhisperer.com

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