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Is there any legitimate concerns of using WeChat in phone or computer? Is it possible they expose message data to others or for their own use? Also, will the installation of the official WeChat app jeopardize or corrupt the security and privacy of the Operating system and other files/apps residing in the phone/computer? What are all the possible concerns of using WeChat and what is the worst case scenario? And how to mitigate the possible negative effects?

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  • The way I mitigate the impact of malware is to not install it.
    – Myridium
    Nov 20, 2021 at 12:00

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The question is too broad to elicit a specific response. So I will assume opinions are fair game. Put another way, the question is essentially “how should one think about WeChat and security.” Where “should” is really more of an opinion.

Opinion:

Trust to me can’t be earned by inanimate objects. People make programs for a purpose. Those people and their purposes may be trustworthy or not. wechat.com says “WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose instant messaging, social media and mobile payment app...” If free software from China sounds too good to pass up, go nuts.

If I were to install WeChat I would assume total compromise of all information in the app. I would also assume there to be some level or command and control (C2). That C2 might not be targeted right away, it might be checking its environment (information, network, platform...) before phoning home if it may be interesting. That’s my opinion and I have no specific information to substantiate that.

To give you a more technical direction, I’d point you to the Mitre ATT&CK matrix to better understand attack lifecycle, and also the OSI model to understand how compromise at one layer can implicate other layers.

Applications rely heavily on the security mechanisms of the operating system. What an app can do is very very speculative. If that app is not trustworthy then what it can do changes depending on what OS/vuln combinations exist. I consider any application I don’t trust to be persistent malware. I assume its nefarious until I have hard evidence otherwise (source code review, scans, heuristics, etc.)

Mitigations:

  1. Use a VM with nothing else on it. Revert the VM regularly.
  2. Use web version instead of app download.
  3. Avoid giving the app permissions, whitelist its capabilities wherever possible.
  4. Remove the app as soon as possible.