Thursday, June 15, 2017

WhatsApp network forensics

With many companies allowing employees to use their own smartphones in the workplace it has been noted confidential information maybe being unwitting leaked as users take to using their smartphone cameras to take photos of Whiteboard content, potentially risking disclosure (mentioned by the Information Security Community). Smartphones can also scan data, reducing the need for organisation to require Whiteboard printouts (thus saving money?). Whilst a user might not intentionally leak information, WhatsApp does provide for exchange of information during in-party calls, potentially allowing confidential data to be circulated.

However, let us avoid that scare story of sending confidential information and the story at work with the situation where a WhatsApp user has called another WhatsApp user and discloses Global Organisation X is in talks with World Dominant Corp. B to take them over. Both are on the Stock Exchange and both hold Worldwide Patents used in the medical industry. Such a leak could wrongfully 'influence' the markets. Could a WhatsApp call leak be possible? Maybe, but is that relevant to WhatsApp network forensics and this article? No. Finding out potential avenues where information leakage might take place enables pre-planning, handling risk and helps in designing a rescue plan.

Screen from my desktop using Wireshark

What is relevant is that for those conducting network forensics, accordingly to F. Karpisek, I. Baggili, F. Breitinger (ISSN 1742-2876, they were able to "...decrypt the network traffic and obtain forensic artifacts that relate to this new calling feature which included the: a) WhatsApp phone numbers, b) WhatsApp server IPs, c) WhatsApp audio codec (Opus), d) WhatsApp call duration, and e) WhatsApp's call termination." From a network investigators point of view essential information producing evidential artifacts of identifying network activity. Taking this further, PenTesters might even find this information useful, also. Even where security flaws get updated, doesn't stop modified attacks occurring creating further vulnerabilities; so learning is the name of the game. 
Often we read from articles/reports about vulnerabilities etc. but only the content in the articles/reports are available. What is extremely helpful here F. Karpisek, I. Baggili, F. Breitinger have made available 'trace data' so that when combined with the tools referred to in 'WhatsApp network forensics: Decrypting and understanding the WhatsApp call signaling messages', enables Investigators and PenTesters to gain experience and refine testing approaches. Access to the trace information is here: . You may want to get a copy soon as often with dropbox downloads they get deleted by the dropbox user after a time.

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