The privacy of WhatsApp is once again in the eye of the hurricane, and in this case the cause is Google. With a simple Google search you could access private WhatsApp groups, that is, this error allowed people outside the group to have access to the conversations.
Not only to conversations, which are sometimes banal and insipid, but the real danger lies in having access to phone numbersThis information, in the wrong hands, can be a source of problems for dozens of people from premium subscriptions, hacking, theft of WhatsApp accounts, and endless headaches.
But before continuing with this fuss, it is worth explaining how it is possible to have almost unlimited access to private WhatsApp groups with a simple Google search.
Well, the problem resides mainly in the group invitation link. These links are indexed in Google without taking into account that they are private, which is why this serious ruling allows anyone to join the group without prior consent.
To access these groups, just put in Google the specific structure of the WhatsApp groups link:
Where we put "concert", you can put almost any word (carnival, demonstration, travel, gatherings, Indonesia, Spain, football, etc.), since they are usually groups with hundreds of people to organize meetings, demonstrations, go to concerts, parties, football matches, etc.
While typing that into the Google search bar, the Internet giant returns thousands of results Well, this gives us the possibility for thousands of people to access private groups without consent, thus having access to conversations, photos, telephone numbers, private information, etc.
Moreover, in our tests, we have written "chat.whatsapp.com concert" and we have accessed a link that is indexed in a Facebook fan page and another group in a Twitter Tweet. This is not surprising, as they are, to some extent, public groups.
If we scroll, we see web pages with dozens of WhatsApp groups to go to concerts, even in "Mil Anuncios" there are links of WhatsApp groups. Be that as it may, the only security measure is to click on "Join the chat"
Vamos changed the word and the problem is repeated. These are mostly large groups, but they are not private, as are the groups we have with our friends, with our co-workers, our community of neighbors, family, etc. that are private.
In the case of private groups, this security breach has allowed access to hundreds of groups where some NGO's accredited by the United Nations, groups with pornographic content, groups with sensitive content, other harmless, etc.
According to Jane Wong, an applications and security engineer, searching Google for "chat.whatsapp.com" or "site:chat.whatsapp.com" yielded more than 470,000 results.
But be that as it may, that bug that has already been resolved allowed access to a multitude of information such as telephone numbers, photos, conversations, data, etc.
All this leads us to know, according to a WhatsApp statement, that the members and administrators of the groups themselves are the responsible for the link to join being shared to trusted people or is shared freely and without control in public places.
Part of that responsibility also falls on Google and WhatsApp to censor certain information by making searches as simple as those we have done in our tests, but this is something we are not 100% aware of, so that, for now, better to be cautious when sharing a link to join a WhatsApp group.
And if we want greater security, we can go to the settings of a group of which we are administrators and activate the box where we are allowed to choose who can add members to a group. At the moment, there is nothing in WhatsApp to limit the entry to a group, that is, there is no filter, nor any security method, as we have been able to verify.