Do you know that you can be stalked on Whatsapp because of a status loophole? Reportedly a status flaw has come to the notice of researchers, which stalkers are using to stalk women on the messaging app. According to a Traced Report, “When someone comes online on WhatsApp (that is, they open the app or bring it to the foreground), an indicator changes, setting their status to “Online”. This indicator is public information, and can be used by anyone to build a service that watches out for this online status indicator.”
Traced’s CTO, Matt Boddy discovered that there are several Whatsapp tracker websites and apps available on the internet. By entering a mobile phone number, a stalker can know the exact date and time when the person last accessed Whatsapp.
There are many Whatsapp tracking apps marketing themselves as the ones that can be used to stalk a cheating spouse, ex-girlfriend, etc. “Some WhatsApp status trackers take this constant monitoring of another person’s online status to another level. Enter a second phone number, and you can cross-reference the times each person opened WhatsApp to see if they may be messaging each other,” the report said.
Chloé Messdaghi, an ethical hacker and advocate said, “Apps that use WhatsApp’s data to help abusers know when the victims are offline or online. These apps are literally allowing abusers to continue to stalk and control people. They aren’t even hiding it. It’s even in their marketing messaging. It’s promoting violence.”
The report further stated that there is, however, nothing to stop someone who wants to track an ex, a girl- or boyfriend, a spouse, from using one of these apps. Although the installation of software without the phone user’s consent or knowledge is actually against the law, it’s hardly enforceable, and if the app presents itself as a family tracker, there is no need for it to alert the user about the data it is transmitting. (A child, being, apparently, not a person.)
It is known that Whatsapp has many privacy features to protect the users. One of its features also allows users to hide their ‘last seen’ status. Users can go to Settings<Privacy and set the last seen to ‘nobody.’ Despite this feature, there is one major loophole that even Whatsapp addressed in its FAQs section. Whenever the user is online, the status will be shown as ‘Online,’ even if last seen is set to nobody.
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