Can WhatsApp messages be traced?

Messenger Apps – More insecure than you think!

Friday 2 October, 2020

Popular smartphone messenger Apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal are used by billions of people worldwide. Almost every one of those users will assume that their personal information, data and even the messages and photos themselves are private and secure on their smartphone. 

The truth however, proves that this is not always the case.

Is WhatsApp secure? 

It is highly likely that most users of WhatsApp will be completely unaware of a process called “Mobile Contact Discovery”. WhatsApp uses Mobile Contact Discovery to gain access to a user’s contact list stored on their mobile device in order for them to text and message their existing contacts. This function is granted to the App by the user when they first load it on to their smartphone. 

During a recent study, researchers found that they were able to gain access to personal information by conducting crawling attacks on the contact discovery services by targeting a random selection of mobile phone numbers. 

The results were really quite shocking. Here is a list of the types of information that they were able to gather:

  • Profile pictures
  • Status texts
  • Last online time
  • User nicknames

But this isn’t the end of the story. The information they glean from the messenger Apps are then used to build up a behaviour profile of the user by cross matching the data with other data sources that have public access and other social networks. 

Can WhatsApp messages be traced?

Whilst WhatsApp messages are secured using the end to end encryption protocols making the viewing of the message contents private between the sender and recipient, it is little known that there is other information available if requested via the correct channels.

The Metadata on WhatsApp can reveal some interesting information that will allow further analysis of the user’s behaviour. 

For example, if properly requested they can reveal:

  • Mobile number
  • The type of device that is being used
  • The mobile network that is being used
  • The contact numbers of those spoken to on WhatsApp
  • The time a call was made by the user
  • The duration of that call
  • Data on the websites visited when using WhatsApp
  • The IP address and even the location

As you can see, this is a huge amount of very useful personal information. If this, together with other pieces of information that can be hacked from all the various sources, it is sufficient for the hackers to then build a much more accurate scam on the user. 

Will pictures sent on WhatsApp remain private and secure?

As we can see so far, there are certain things that are not as private and secure as you would think. Pictures sent via WhatsApp are in the most part safe in WhatsApp. However, that does not necessarily mean they will remain safe and secure.

For example, if the recipient has the picture autosave function active, the picture you sent will be saved to their own Photo Album. There are other Apps, such as Facebook, that can access these galleries, therefore your picture now becomes accessible by a third party. 

Trust the recipient with your private Messages

No matter how secure and private your messages are when you send them, it is vitally important that you trust the person you send it to. 

You need to be sure that no one else has access to their phone. Also, they can be trusted to ensure the phone is locked and they have the same level and mindset for security and privacy that you do. 

The solution to insecure Messenger Apps

The alternative option to using an insecure messenger App is the Blackphone PRIVY. The Blackphone PRIVY smartphone is designed to be private and secure at all levels of communication. It has secure end to encryption for all messages whether as text, email or phone call. 

In addition, the Blackphone PRIVY does not connect to any third-party servers so there is no information held anywhere other than your secure handset.

The security features include:

  • Device Wipe Feature
  • Incognito Mode
  • End to End Encryption
  • Wiretap Secure
  • PGP Email

If you are concerned about the privacy and security of your mobile communications, intend to use messaging services on a regular basis, then Blackphone PRIVY is the Secure Smartphone that will meet your needs. The Blackphone PRIVY out performs the security of all other popular smartphones on the market. 

Please give us a call to discuss how we can help you make your communications both private and secure.

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