Hackers could have changed Facebook Messenger chat logs

Attackers could have rewritten logs of their Facebook Messenger chats with you to introduce falsehoods and malicious links

Here's a Facebook hack straight from the pages of the novel 1984: A way to rewrite the record of the past.

"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past," went the ruling party's slogan in George Orwell's dystopian novel.

Security researchers have found a way to control the past, by altering Facebook's logs of online chats conducted through its website and Messenger App.

Such modified logs could be used to control the future, the researchers suggest, by using them to commit fraud, to falsify evidence in legal investigations, or to introduce malware onto a PC or phone.

Roman Zaikin of Check Point Software Technologies discovered a flaw in Facebook's chat system that made it possible for an attacker to modify or remove any sent message, photo, file or link in a conversation they were part of.

He demonstrated in a video how he could change an earlier message from an innocent "Hi!" to what could be a link to ransomware attack.

But the chat logs could just as easily have been modified to create (or suppress) evidence of a spouse's unreasonable behavior in child custody battles, or any number of other scenarios.

Needing to be part of the conversation might seem a major limitation, but if attackers are somehow able to gain control of someone else's PC or Facebook account, then they are also able to modify all of that person's chat histories with other Facebook users.

"These chats can be admitted as evidence in legal investigations and this vulnerability opens the door for an attacker to hide evidence of a crime or even incriminate an innocent person," Check Point researchers wrote Tuesday, in a blog post describing the flaw.

The researchers found that each message in Facebook's chat applications is identified by a "message_id" parameter.

Given this identifier, it is possible to send instructions to Facebook's servers to modify the message. This can be done using common website debugging tools to alter the commands Facebook's own website used to send the chat messages in the first place, as Check Point's Zaikin demonstrated. The change in the log happens invisibly, without a fresh notification being sent to devices participating in the conversation.

Happily for future users of the Messenger app, Facebook has rewritten its past code to fix the flaw since being informed of it earlier this month, the vulnerability, the security company said in its blog post.

But if Check Point wasn't the first to spot the vulnerability, who knows what changes have already been made in the myriad documents composing our modern history? Has Oceania, as Orwell wrote, really always been at war with Eastasia?

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?