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A WhatsApp Web Error Allows Spying on Contacts’ Habits

Maria Baeta

Maria Baeta

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WhatsApp Web has an error that allows anybody with certain a computer know-how, to partially spy on you. By partially I mean that he/she can find out when you go to bed and when you get up.

Engineer Rob Heaton has discovered this error and shared it on his blog. The error is the legendary “online” status that is visible when you’re connected. You can disable the time you were last online so it no longer displays, but the “online” status can’t be removed.

A WhatsApp Web Error Allows Spying on Contacts’ Habits

Rob Heaton demonstrates, on his blog, how easy it is to create a Chrome extension in order to monitor every time a contact from your WhatsApp appears “online.” Then, you leave your computer turned on with WhatsApp Web enabled, get on with your life and within a few hours, or even a week, you can come back and see the results.

The code that the extension needs to collect everybody’s connectivity times is very straightforward:

By knowing the last time that a WhatsApp contact was “online” the day before and the first time that he/she was “online” the next day, you’ll know more or less how many hours they slept. This way, a jealous person could find out if his/her partner has a busier nightlife than they’re letting on, so to speak.

Heaton goes one step further and even explains that with this info it would be easy to know when two people are talking to each other. Their connectivity times would just have to match.

The danger here isn’t just that an ordinary person could use this, but also somebody with more malicious intentions could gather all this info and sell it to third parties.

It’s unclear if Heaton has passed along his findings to WhatsApp to prevent this info from being given away by WhatsApp Web.

Do you think this is a huge mistake or no big deal?

Sources: Robert Heaton’s blog, El Confidencial

Maria Baeta

Maria Baeta

My first computer was an Amstrad CPC 6128 and so began my love for gadgets. Besides tech and games I love music (I'm a singer in two bands of swing, jazz and blues), cinema (watching and writing about it), gastronomy (cooking... but above all eating!) and alternative fashion. Do you follow the cult of The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Great, I'm sure we can get along.

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