Thu, 21 Jan 2021 07:59:59
WhatsApp is a popular messaging app that has become an indispensable part of our lives as a communication channel. But hacking your WhatsApp chats is probably everyone's worst nightmare, and you can prevent it by knowing the methods that can be used to hack WhatsApp chats and taking precautions around it.
Top 7 Methods Used to Hack WhatsApp Chats
By Exploiting Vulnerabilities
Now and then, new vulnerabilities emerge that can be exploited to hack WhatsApp chats. Some of the popular WhatsApp vulnerabilities that wreaked havoc in the last year were Pegasus voice calling attacks and remote code execution via GIFs.
The Pegasus Voice Call Attack allows hackers to access the device by simply making a WhatsApp voice call to their target. Even if the target doesn't answer the call, the attack can still work, and the target may not even be aware that malware has been installed on their device.
Another vulnerability involves a malicious GIF which, when seen by the victim, allows the attacker to hijack their WhatsApp chat history.
Even though these vulnerabilities have been patched, there are always new possibilities that may emerge and as long as the unknown vulnerabilities stay in the wild. Hence, there is always a security risk.
Note: Always keep your WhatsApp updated as the development team is constantly releasing new patches meant to address such vulnerabilities. And if you haven't updated WhatsApp in a long time, I suggest you do it right away!
WhatsApp Web is a feature that makes messaging apps accessible on a desktop browser. You can send and receive text, images, videos, and files through it. Your chats, as well as media files, stay fully synchronized between mobile and desktop. This means that any action you take on one device will also be reflected on the other.
However, this feature also poses a security risk. Although you have to authorize WhatsApp Web on PC by scanning the QR code on your WhatsApp mobile app, once the desktop device is authorized, it continues to provide access to your WhatsApp chats via PC.
So, if you allow someone else to access this PC with official access to your WhatsApp Web account, that person can open web.whatsapp.com in the browser, and all your chats will be visible to that person.
From there, the person can choose to export the chat or take a screenshot, effectively hacking into your WhatsApp chats and violating your privacy.
How to prevent the WhatsApp web from being exploited? Here are some things you can do to keep your chats safe on WhatsApp Web:
- Never activate your WhatsApp Web on a PC that can be accessed by others. If you have to do so in a necessary situation, don't forget to log out of your account. To log out of your WhatsApp web account, simply click on the three vertical dots button and select exit, as shown in the image below.
- Alternatively, you can choose not to click the "Keep Me Signed in" option, which appears when you log into WhatsApp web. Thus, WhatsApp will log you out automatically whenever your session ends.
- Every time your WhatsApp web is active on your device, your mobile app will always tell you the same thing on your smartphone notification panel. So if you see this message is given below please sign out of all devices immediately by opening the WhatsApp app on the phone > More options > WhatsApp Web > Log out from all devices > LOG OUT.
Export Chat History To Email
This method is similar to the previous one and requires physical access to your device to hack WhatsApp chats. It takes less than a minute for this method to work, and all it needs to do is access your device secretly, either by tricking you or taking advantage of the fact that your device is left unlocked.
To export WhatsApp chats, you just need to open Whatsapp, tap on More Options (top right corner) and select the Export Chat option and send all chats to an email ID, which can be accessed later.
Note: Always protect your device via PIN or Fingerprint to avoid anyone snooping on your chats. If you have to hand over your device to someone, make sure you use the app locker on WhatsApp to keep it safe.
Access your Chat Backup
It's worth noting that WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption via its platform only. This means that when your chats leave WhatsApp, you lose encryption.
If you have enabled the Backup Chats option and saved a copy of your conversations in Google Drive or iCloud, keep in mind that those conversations are not encrypted and can be easily accessed by other people if they successfully hack or gain access to your Gmail or iCloud account.
Note: I personally don't recommend storing chat backups in the cloud just because of the security risk involved. Even if you have to because you have important conversations to save, I recommend being more careful about keeping your cloud account safe by using strong passwords and not sharing them with anyone.
Media File Hijacking
WhatsApp keeps your messages encrypted in transit, but once the media files reach your phone, the same cannot be guaranteed. Media File Jacking is a vulnerability in which an attacker takes advantage of the way WhatsApp receives media files such as photos or videos and writes those files to the external storage of the device.
Media File Hijacking can be accomplished by installing malicious malware hidden in seemingly innocuous apps. This malware can monitor incoming files on WhatsApp. So, when new files arrive, the malware can swap the original files for fake ones and can be used to trick people or just monitor their chats.
Note: To prevent Media File Jacking on WhatsApp, go to Settings > Chat Settings > Save to Gallery option and turn it Off. This will prevent your WhatsApp chats from being hacked.
By using the Spoofing Method, WhatsApp chats can be hacked without physical access to the device, and this is what makes them dangerous and difficult to prevent. Although this is a complex task, it is by no means impossible.
In this method, the attacker has to find the MAC address of the target smartphone. After that, they can use the Busy Box and Terminal Emulator on their smartphone to change the Wi-Fi MAC Address on their device to the address of the target device.
Next, they install WhatsApp and enter the phone number of the target device. Then they get a verification code on the target device to enter. Once the verification code arrives, they use it to log in to the target’s WhatsApp account and delete the verification code to prevent detection by the victim.
However, one red flag might be that WhatsApp on the victim's device will log out when the hacker enters. But unfortunately, the damage may have occurred by then.
Note: Always check some applications that ask for your address, thus limiting some applications from tracking your IP address.
Using Third-Party Spyware
There are many mobile monitoring apps such as EvaSpy or Spyzie available which are specially made for monitoring chats on WhatsApp and other messaging apps. For this method to work, someone has to install this app on your phone by physically accessing it and giving it access to supervise your chats.
Some of these spy apps offer additional features like live environment listening, screen recording, keylogging, camera control, screen capture, and chat recording.
One can even take this to another level and opt for Spyware, which hacks WhatsApp chats remotely. Some of the known names are POCWAPP and WSP 3.0 - WhatsApp Scan Pro. Now, the app is paid and available on the DarkNet, so it's not something you use very often, but that doesn't take away from the fact that tools are available that can violate your privacy.
Note: To avoid falling victim to spyware apps, don't install apps from unverified sources and pay attention to the types of apps installed on your phone. If you see any app that you haven't installed yourself or observe any suspicious behavior in it, it's best to uninstall it immediately.
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Prevent WhatsApp Chats from Getting Hacked
So here are some of the ways your WhatsApp chats can be hacked. I hope this will also help you avoid falling victim to either of these methods. Go through the steps mentioned above to increase your security.
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