Many of you are sure to be aware of WhatsApp – a hugely popular instant messaging app that allows iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone users to all chat to each other and avoid the costs of text messaging.
A new application available on the Play Store for Android devices has exposed just how easy it is for somebody using the same Wi-Fi network as you to intercept your WhatsApp conversations and read your messages, as well as viewing any pictures and videos that you may have shared.
It’s a worrying revelation that has actually been discovered before, up to one year ago in fact. The problem is that WhatsApp uses a no encryption when sending your chat messages between two devices, sending them in simply plain text form. This means that somebody can connect to the same Wi-Fi network as you and use what’s called a Packet Sniffer to read your chat logs.
WhatsAppSniffer is the new app, and it’s a Packet Sniffer than can be downloaded onto Android smartphones and tablets that have been rooted. Your standard Android user will not be able to install this app and search your messages, only those who have ‘rooted’ their phones by installing custom software can use it. Once installed it’s pretty straightforward for somebody to see if anyone else on their Wi-Fi network is using WhatsApp, and to then view their chats.
This issue affects iPhone and Android WhatsApp users, although it’s not yet clear if the problem can affect those using Windows Phone 7 devices. BlackBerry phones connect to the web via BlackBerry’s secure servers, so their users are the only ones not at risk.
So if WhatsApp knew of the problem almost one year ago, why hasn’t it been fixed? This is the question that is no doubt going to be on the lips of thousands as this revelation expands. Samsung’s relatively recent alternative to WhatsApp, ChatON, also started life sending chat messages in plain text and could have been vulnerable to the same thing, but they quickly fixed it, so why can’t the makers of WhatsApp?
While this may seem like a horror story for WhatsApp users, it’s not everybody that can use this app and it will only work on Wi-Fi, not when you’re out and about using your mobile network’s cellular connection. Here’s hoping that this vulnerability gets fixed sharpish.
Via: Android Police