WhatsApp Flaw Is Aiding Stalkers, Putting Women Safety At Risk

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Privacy breaches and Facebook-owned apps go hand in hand. Adding to the long list is the WhatsApp Status flaw that makes it easy for cyberstalkers to track women on the app. A new report from Traced, a mobile security app, shows that stalkers use WhatsApp Online Status websites to extract personal information about women.

WhatsApp Flaw Is Aiding Stalkers, Putting Women Safety At Risk

 

The report further explains that stalkers typically try to gather as much information as possible about their target. This information includes the people that person is talking to; who they are emailing; their whereabouts; people they are meeting; what sites they are visiting online, and much more. Having such personal details about a person is unethical and also very dangerous.

When a person is online on WhatsApp, their status can be seen as "online" regardless of whether their number is saved on your phone or not. While it sounds like a pretty normal feature, WhatsApp status trackers track users even when they aren't online.

To curb cyberstalking, Google has banned stalkerware on the Google Play Store; however, numerous apps get around this ban by claiming to be a tool for parents to track their child's browsing history, location, and other online activities. But, as of now, there is no way to stop someone from using this app for their nefarious intentions.

WhatsApp Flaw Is Aiding Stalkers, Putting Women Safety At Risk

Though installing software on a phone without the owner's consent is illegal, it's difficult to force the law on an app that presents itself as a family tracker, eliminating the need to notify the user about the data transmission.

 

The Traced report also highlights one particular trick that cyberstalkers use to monitor their target without having to access their phones. This tactic is completely legal and is mostly a web-based service that doesn't reveal its stalkerware policies.

So how do these online WhatsApp status trackers work? Traced CTO, Matt Boddy himself tried them out. He found that when a user comes online on WhatsApp, an indicator changes, showing their status as "online." This indicator can be used by anybody to create a service that tracks this online status indicator.

Some trackers take this constant monitoring a notch higher. Cyberstalkers enter a second phone number to cross-reference the times each person used WhatsApp to see if they were communicating with each other.

What's more concerning is the fact that WhatsApp has no control over such apps and websites that track users. Besides, there's no way users can themselves find out if they are being tracked. Though you can hide your "Last Seen" on the app, there's no way to stop showing "Online" status.

There aren't many ways to protect against this kind of stalking, but changing phone numbers could work. However, this would be an extremely inconvenient step. Another alternative could be switching to a more secure app such as Signal which is a privacy-focused app.

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