WhatsApp Security Risk! Phone Numbers Leaked on Google Search!
If you are part of the more than 2 billion people using WhatsApp worldwide then you might want to pay attention. A growing cybersecurity concern is rising amongst those who use WhatsApp. Learn more about how WhatsApp leaked users' phone numbers online.
A new feature called Click to Chat has cybersecurity experts concerned that phone numbers and other private data may be available to those who want to steal your data!
The Security Concerns with Click to Chat
Click to Chat is a feature offered by WhatsApp that makes it easier to initiate a conversation with a website visitor. A visitor comes to your sight and while browsing may see an option to either scan a QR code or click a link to start a WhatsApp chat.
The goal of this feature is to make it easier to connect websites and business owners with those who want to contact them. However, some people are worried.
Once the chat is initiated on WhatsApp it creates a URL that connects the two people together. The problem is that within the URL is a string on plaintext that could reveal your phone number "https://wa.me/<phone_number". This essentially “leaks” your phone number online because Google is still able to index that information.
Why is Indexing a Problem?
For those of us who are not familiar with it, Indexing is essentially when Google stores the information for later purposes. Google scans through all the information online and “indexes” it so that it has an idea of what is on the web and how to find it.
For example, if you want a new rake for your yard when you Google “rake” it will run through the index of all examples of that word being used. This is (a very very simple example) of how Google gets you the results that you want.
However, with Click to Chat, it is indexing the code that has your WhatsApp phone number linked within the URL. This means that attackers could, theoretically, use this to create attacks.
The Dangers of WhatsApp Indexing
According to Threat Post, WhatsApp claimed that this was not a security risk, and in June released a fix for the indexing.
It appears that you are no longer able to search phone numbers through the “https://wa.me/” numbers URL search.
However, The Quint reported that WhatsApp phone numbers and Mp4 files have been leaked once again on Google searches.
All of this data available can aid attackers in various ways.
- Sell your phone number and contacts to attackers, scammers, spammers, and marketers
- Use your number against you in a SimSwap attack
- Connect your number to pictures in your account to create a cyber attack
WhatsApp is a Facebook-owned company and is linked to many parts of your online identity. For this reason, any leaked personal information from these tech giants is enough to give us pause.
What do I do now?
The smart move going forward is to follow all the normal rules for cybersecurity. Be careful of the links you click on, and beware of phishing attacks. There is a chance that your number is already in the hands of an attacker and being vigilant is a great place to start.
Another great option is to work with a cybersecurity team that can manage your personal or business network. A managed services team is a great way to ensure that your operating safely during a time of growing cybersecurity concerns.
Reach out to our great team for a FREE network assessment on your IT security network today!