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WhatsApp reportedly fixes bug that may have leaked chats on Google

WhatsApp Group chats were reportedly indexed by Google and the number of groups that were reportedly searchable on Google was close to 470, 000.

twitter-logo Ankita Chakravarti   New Delhi     Last Updated: February 24, 2020  | 13:23 IST
WhatsApp
WhatsApp

Highlights

  • WhatsApp chat links can be easily found via a Google search, reports claimed.
  • WhatsApp seemed to have fixed the bug, confirmed an enthical hacker.
  • In 2019, WhatsApp disclosed 12 vulnerabilities

A few days ago, a report claimed that WhatsApp chat links can be easily found via a Google search due to a technical glitch in the messaging app. This meant that anybody could join the WhatsApp groups just by searching for it on Google. A report on Motherboard highlighted that the WhatsApp Group chats were indexed by Google. The number of groups that were reportedly searchable on Google was close to 470, 000. However, now WhatsApp seemed to have fixed the problem.

The glitch by WhatsApp came to the fore when a Twitter user by the name of Jordan Wildon issued a warning on the micro-blogging site. He wrote, Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are. The "Invite to Group via Link" feature allows groups to be indexed by Google and they are generally available across the internet. With some wildcard search terms you can easily find some interesting groups.

To this, Google's public search liaison, Danny Sullivan replied saying, Search engines like Google & others list pages from the open web. That's what's happening here. It's no different than any case where a site allows URLs to be publicly listed. We do offer tools allowing sites to block content being listed in our results."

However, now it seems that WhatsApp has fixed the bug. Renowned ethical hacker Jane Manchun Wong, who earlier revealed that over 470k WhatsApp groups have been exposed to Google, took to Twitter and wrote, Looks like WhatsApp has fixed it by removing the existing listing from Google and adding the `noindex` meta tag on.

WhatsApp has still not commented on the entire fiasco officially but a spokesperson told the Verge, Like all content that is shared in searchable public channels, invite links that are posted publicly on the internet can be found by other WhatsApp users. The links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website.

This is not the first time WhatsApp is in the eye of the storm, earlier in January; the messaging app disclosed over 12 vulnerabilities. Out of which, seven were said to be extremely critical. It was reported that hackers got access to install spyware on the devices due to one of WhatsApp's vulnerability. The biggest blow to security came to the fore when it was reported that over 1400 people were targeted using Pegasus spyware, out of which 121 users were Indian journalists, human rights activists and other prominent figures. However, WhatsApp did fix the vulnerability and urged users to update to the latest version of the app.

WhatsApp should really pull up their socks' and work towards strengthening the privacy and security of all the 1.6 billion users it has across the world.

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Tags: WhatsApp
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