WhatsApp has had a serious hole in its design exposed by a Dutch student who developed a web-based tool that would track the location of any user anywhere they are.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps on the market that isn’t a default messaging service on a smartphone. However, even with the encryption and privacy controls that have been placed on messages – a lot of other information is still vulnerable. For example, your location, profile picture, and even status message are all up for grabs. Maikel Zweerink, is a Dutch student who has gained a lot of notoriety for developing a web-based tool that is called WhatsSpy. The tool can successfully track the location of any WhatsApp user without any flaw or issue.
The student though seems to have developed the tool to send a message to the creators of WhatsApp, rather than for malicious purposes. He said, “The application is setup as Proof of Concept that WhatsApp is broken in terms of privacy.” Interestingly, the tool is billed as being something that anyone could manage to put together. While anyone who is trying to exploit the flaw or see it for themselves – would have to have a pretty significant amount of knowledge when it comes to WhatsApp and the IT world as a whole, the premise is relatively simple. Even more interesting, is that the developer has offered to have anyone who does not believe him – send him their number – and he would prove it to be effective.
The terrible part about this flaw is the fact that it is open to anyone – even when privacy settings are set to “nobody.” This is something that has raised a lot of concerns, in a very short period. It was just recently that researchers had figured out that there was a relatively easy way to get by security in WhatsApp and view profile pictures – even when they were set to “friends only.” The security tool that was developed by the Dutch student, though, lines everything up in a graph and sets up an impressive timeline. It’s further proof that WhatsApp does need to regain their focus when it comes to ensuring their users safety, especially since they are one of the largest messaging services on the planet – and approaching a billion users globally.