The researchers found that one of the most significant flaws was WhatsApp’s status online feature, one of the most widely used messaging applications, allowing third-party stalk users.
Cybersecurity firm Traced has explored apps and services that cyberstalkers can use to track users when they are active on WhatsApp. “You can enter a mobile number, and if that person is using WhatsApp, the status tracker will provide the exact date and time that the person opened WhatsApp,” the company said in a blog post.
WhatsApp has provided a status online status feature to let people know when you are online. However, unlike features like Last Seen and Status Messages, you do not have the option to disable or change your online status. It is what could be exploited by third parties.
Tracked found that many WhatsApp status online marketers track themselves as a solution to help people find out if their contact on the app is online. However, they can use cyberstalkers to monitor other people constantly.
Several online status trackers also found that allowed users to enter the phone numbers of two people. It helps to presume whether the two users interact with each other on the app at any given time.
Google does not allow cyberstalking apps to be published on its Play Store. However, WhatsApp online tracking apps on Google Play seem to be a solution to notify parents and spouses when their loved ones are online on WhatsApp.
Thus, the way messaging apps design online status features seems to be a significant cause in enabling this form of cyber-stalking through third-party solutions.