An apparent technical vulnerability on WhatsApp is allowing third parties to stalk users through the online status feature. Security researchers said that third parties are able to exploit the online status feature of the instant messaging app. This allows them to track the location of users without asking for their consent. Cybersecurity firm traced has found the vulnerability. The firm has mentioned the list of applications that stalkers can be used by stalkers to track the location when they are online on WhatsApp. Some reports even suggested that the vulnerability can also be find used to find who is texting whom.
When users come online, their status can be viewed immediately when someone comes online. This can be viewed by anyone even if the person is not on the list of saved contacts. The online status feature of the instant messaging app cannot be disabled like other features. It is always active by default. The app allows users to disable features like Read Messages status and Last Seen. But users don’t have any liberty over the online status. According to some reports, these stalkers claim to be the online service providers and help people to know when their contact is online throughout the day. There are some who even provide the option of tracking two mobile numbers at one go.
Reacting to these reports, WhatsApp said that it works regularly with app stores so that such apps can be removed. “We are working in tandem with the app store to make sure that apps that violate our rules are removed from the platform. We have already taken the required actions on WhatsApp accounts that are associated with such websites. We have already requested Google to keep an eye on such apps and remove them instantly from the Play Store. WhatsApp has also requested legal action against these their party service providers. We will continue to take necessary steps to maintain the privacy of users,” a spokesperson said.