USA

A loophole in WhatsApp status is helping cyber stalkers and they warn that it would be impossible to repair

The public data of the application can put your privacy and security online at risk.

April 19, 2021 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

A security firm, Traced , has detected a major security flaw in the world's busiest messaging app, WhatsApp. The flaw has fueled the industry of tracking, or harassment, as many call it. We explain what it is about and how it works.

Tracking apps are not banned but they are not advertised

Although Google has banned the advertising of apps designed to monitor a device, there are still many in the app store, which are promoted as monitoring and tracking for parents who want to know what their children are doing, their location, messages and online activity , as reported by the firm.

Although in theory this can be useful to ensure the well-being of their loved ones, some people use them to spy on their partners. These practices cannot theoretically be done unless the other party is aware that you are being monitored and has your permission. A notification has to be displayed while data is being transmitted. However, there is nothing that prevents you from using these types of apps to track an ex, a partner or a person of your interest.

"Follow your friends, lover, wife or children," reads one of the applications, clearly without following the rules of the App Store.

WhatsApp online status trackers

With all the latest app issues, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world. We do not say it, but Statista . They explain that they have more than two billion monthly active users.

We know how WhatsApp works. When someone goes online (opens the app), the indicator changes to being 'online' . This is public information and anyone can use it to create a service that is monitoring when it is activated.

According to Traced's research, whoever has these types of apps can enter the mobile number and if they use WhatsApp, the status tracker will provide the exact date and times when that number was connected 'online' .

These applications are even promoted to be used for harassment purposes. There are also others that go further. Traced explains that you can add another number to review every time you log into WhatsApp and cross-reference, that is, every time those two numbers are messaging each other.

Can you protect yourself from this type of harassment?

The app has privacy locks to protect its users. One of its functions is to hide the time of your last connection. However, it does little to protect privacy against these spy apps.

The same app owned by Facebook admits in its "Questions and Answers" section, that the status of 'online' cannot be modified . So, there is bad news, there is no configuration within the app that can prevent monitoring, nor is there any way to know if someone is following when you connect or not to WhatsApp, so far there is no software that can detect it.

The conclusion? The firm only offers two solutions. Unless they change this function, the only way to avoid harassment through your online hours is by changing the number or uninstalling the app and downloading another one like Signal or Telegram that have other privacy policies.

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