WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think. That's what the journalist Jordan Wildon, from the German agency, said Deutsche Welle, after discovering that Google indexes links with invitations to private messenger groups. This means that, with a simple search on the search engine, anyone can discover and participate in collective chats.
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As Wildon explained on his Twitter last Friday (21), the "Invite via link" feature allows Google to index WhatsApp groups in their search. This is because it is possible to share the links outside the messenger and therefore without the security of the application's end-to-end encryption. In note to TechTudo, WhatsApp confirmed that invitation links can be found by other users when made available on public channels (see the full note at the end of the story). Also sought by TechTudo, Google did not take a position on this.
WhatsApp: invitations to private groups are found in Google search Photo: Bruno De Blasi / TechTudo
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It is not difficult to find group links on Google. To do so, simply apply the search command site: chat.whatsapp.com "to filter related results URL, which is linked to the collective conversations of the messaging app for Android and iPhone (iOS). According to research by reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong, there are at least 470 thousand links indexed to the search engine.
The groups found in the survey cover a wide variety of topics, most of them related to pornography. There are also chats by anti-government and far-right organizations. When clicking on any of the links, the user simply confirms the entry to become a member of the group and have access not only to the content discussed in the conversation, but also to the telephone numbers of the other participants.
It is possible to revoke the link created from the chat information window on WhatsApp. For this, the group administrator needs to access the "Participants" section, touch "Invite via link" and then "Cancel link". According to Wildon, however, the procedure only generates a new URL, without necessarily disabling the original link.
Procedure to cancel a group invitation link on WhatsApp Photo: Reproduo / Ana Letcia Loubak
Wanted by TechTudo, WhatsApp confirmed that, once shared on social networks and other public platforms, invitation links are subject to indexing by Google and other search engines. According to the company, users interested in preserving the privacy of the conversation should not publish the URL on a website accessible to the public. O TechTudo he also contacted Google, which did not comment on the case. Check the positioning of WhatsApp below:
WhatsApp group administrators can invite any WhatsApp user to join that group by sharing a link generated by them. Like all content shared on publicly searchable channels, the invitation links made publicly available on the Internet can be found by other WhatsApp users. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be published on a website accessible to the public.
Via Vice, The Verge and Twitter (1 and 2)
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