Thursday, April 15, 2021

How a WhatsApp Status Loophole Is Aiding Cyberstalkers

Louisa Stockley:

According to Statista, WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app, with over two billion active monthly users. In the UK it’s present on 58% of smartphones and the number of WhatsApp users in the US is expected to hit 86 million by 2023.

When someone comes online in 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.


WhatsApp has other privacy-focused features in the app, so they clearly care about protecting their users at some level. In fact, one of the privacy features allows a user to hide their “Last Seen” time. Some users might understandably believe that this feature hides their presence, but it actually does very little to protect privacy.


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