International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Sebastian Faller


Security Analysis of the WhatsApp End-to-End Encrypted Backup Protocol
WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) messaging service used by billions of people. In late 2021, WhatsApp rolled out a new protocol for backing up chat histories. The E2EE WhatsApp backup protocol (WBP) allows users to recover their chat history from passwords, leaving WhatsApp oblivious of the actual encryption keys. The WBP builds upon the OPAQUE framework for password-based key exchange, which is currently undergoing standardization. While considerable efforts have gone into the design and auditing of the WBP, the complexity of the protocol’s design and shortcomings in the existing security analyses of its building blocks make it hard to understand the actual security guarantees that the WBP provides. In this work, we provide the first formal security analysis of the WBP. Our analysis in the universal composability (UC) framework confirms that the WBP provides strong protection of users’ chat history and passwords. It also shows that a corrupted server can under certain conditions make more password guesses than what previous analysis suggests.
Generalized Fuzzy Password-Authenticated Key Exchange from Error Correcting Codes
Fuzzy Password-Authenticated Key Exchange (fuzzy PAKE) allows cryptographic keys to be generated from authentication data that is both fuzzy and of low entropy. The strong protection against offline attacks offered by fuzzy PAKE opens an interesting avenue towards secure biometric authentication, typo-tolerant password authentication, and automated IoT device pairing. Previous constructions of fuzzy PAKE are either based on Error Correcting Codes (ECC) or generic multi-party computation techniques such as Garbled Circuits. While ECC-based constructions are significantly more efficient, they rely on multiple special properties of error correcting codes such as maximum distance separability and smoothness. We contribute to the line of research on fuzzy PAKE in two ways. First, we identify a subtle but devastating gap in the security analysis of the currently most efficient fuzzy PAKE construction (Dupont et al., Eurocrypt 2018), allowing a man-in-the-middle attacker to test individual password characters. Second, we provide a new fuzzy PAKE scheme based on ECC and PAKE that provides a built-in protection against individual password character guesses and requires fewer, more standard properties of the underlying ECC. Additionally, our construction offers better error correction capabilities than previous ECC-based fuzzy PAKEs.