Researchers say WhatsApp Flaw allows online browsing while online

Security researchers said a vulnerability was discovered in WhatsApp that could allow third parties to track users. The problem is caused by the online status feature of the instant messaging application that is available by default. It provides a number of Android and iPhone applications and some web services that use online status functions to allow third parties to track people without their consent.

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Cyberstalkers can use these tracking solutions to spy on WhatsApp users. Cybersecurity company Trace has discovered apps and services that cyberstalkers can use to track when users are active on WhatsApp. The company explained on its blog: “You can enter any mobile phone number. If the person uses WhatsApp, the status tracker will provide the exact date and time the person opened WhatsApp.” 

WhatsApp provides an online status feature to let people know what you are like. Always online. However, unlike features like “Last Message” and “Status Message”, you do not have the option to disable or change your online status. Traded found that many WhatsApp online status trackers market themselves as a solution to help people know when their contacts are online on the app. 

However, cyberstalkers can simply use them to constantly monitor other people. Some WhatsApp online status trackers also allow users to enter the phone numbers of two people. This helps determine if two users are chatting with each other in the app at any given time. Google does not allow web tracking applications to be published on its Play Store. 

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However, the WhatsApp online tracking application on Google Play is intended to be a solution for parents and spouses to know when their loved ones are online on WhatsApp. This is not the case with web-based online trackers, as some of them are explicitly promoted to track individual WhatsApp accounts. 

It is important to note that online tracking programs can only be used to see when someone uses WhatsApp. Fortunately, this means that tracking solutions don’t allow people to see your messages or activities online. The third party also needs the user’s WhatsApp-related phone number to track their online status. 

That being said, the way WhatsApp designed its online presence feature seems to be the main reason for allowing this form of web tracking through third-party solutions.

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