Some of us like our lives to be private. We really don’t enjoy people sniffing into our business, or checking on WhatsApp to see when we were last online. For that purpose, there is the ‘privacy’ feature inside the app, that gives you the option to hide your profile picture, status and even your ‘last seen’ feature. However, a Dutch university student has made a simple software web tool, to showcase how easy it is to break these privacy settings and stalk any WhatsApp user without much effort. Also Read - WhatsApp is soon to change the way your data is backed up: What it means?Also Read - WhatsApp introduces 'Papa Mere Papa' stickers to celebrate Father's Day: How to download, send?
This tracking tool is called ‘WhatsSpy Public’ made by Maikel Zweerink, and is a web-oriented application that tracks every move of a WhatsApp user. “I made this project for users to realise how broken the privacy options actually are. It just started out as experimenting with Whatsapp to build a Bot, but I was stunned when I realised someone could abuse this “online” feature of WhatsApp to track anyone,” he wrote on his blog post. Also Read - Father’s Day 2021: Here's Best WhatsApp Happy Father’s Day stickers, wishes, GIFs, messages, quotes and more
Zweerink has invited users to send in their phone numbers if they want proof-of-concept without setting up the server. He has also explained in detail how to manually set up the web tool on a 24/7 running server here. The web tool by default gives you the last seven day intel on your contacts’ statuses, profile picture and online/offline information.
The developer stresses that this should not be mistaken for a hack, “This is not an hack or exploit but it s broken by design. He says that he only made this tool public because he wanted to highlight the flaws in WhatsApp’s privacy feature.
In November, WhatsApp partnered with Open Whisper Systems, a security company that develops open source encryption software that can be used by anyone who wants to add it to their messaging platforms. WhatsApp incorporated the TextSecure protocol and provided end-to-end encryption for their users by default. This means, that even though your communication details might be secured, your other status and profile information can still be snooped into, even if your privacy settings are at its strict best.
Before this partnership, WhatsApp was among the most unsecure mobile messaging apps out there. The list also included Facebook messenger and Snapchat. WhatsApp has recently released a slew of new features including WhatsApp Call, which is at the brink of a commercial roll out. We have also seen the blue ticks feature being embedded in the app in November.