08 Aug 2019
How to trace fake WhatsApp forwards? IIT-M Professor explains
The situation has gotten so worse that governments have been seeking ways to trace original senders of fake messages.
WhatsApp says it isn't possible to trace senders without breaking the service's encryption, but an IIT professor has now suggested otherwise.
Here's what he proposes.
India has been looking for ways to trace perpetrators
Owing to an increase in crimes stemming from fake messages, the Indian government had asked WhatsApp to enable a way to trace people brewing misinformation.
However, the Facebook-owned company argued that revealing the identity of a message's sender would break its end-to-end encryption protocol, which keeps messages limited to the sender-receiver.
Any changes to that end would affect its entire security architecture, it emphasized.
IIT-Madras professors suggested workarounds
Just recently, Dr. V. Kamakoti, a computer science teacher at IIT-Madras and a member of the National Security Advisory Board in PM's Office made the broad claim of having a way to trace original sender without breaking encryption.
He was asked by the High Court to submit a report detailing the possible methods, which has now been accessed by the Economic Times.
Two methods proposed to trace fake message senders
In the report, Kamakoti suggested that WhatsApp could embed/tag the information of the original sender with the message in question - either in a open format or encrypted one.
As part of the first technique, he said, the details of the original sender would be visible to all recipients of a WhatsApp forward, while in the second method, the info would remain encrypted.
Second technique makes more sense
As revealing original senders' details to all recipients is a breach of privacy for the sender, the second method makes more sense.
The details would remain hidden but could be accessed by authorities and shared with law enforcement agencies when and if required.
The professor also emphasizes that if a user modifies the text or content of a message, they will become the originator.
WhatsApp has not said anything about bringing traceability
Having said that, it is important to note that WhatsApp has not said anything about bringing sender traceability on the messaging platform. The service hasn't even commented on the ways suggested by Kamakoti.