Update 2020: Watch out! It’s this easy to spy on WhatsApp chats

As statistics reveal, the world chats with WhatsApp. Every day around 1.2 billion people globally communicate over the app, sharing everything from intimate details about their personal life to business secrets. And usually, they do so worry-free as WhatsApp offers secure end-to-end encryption, a feature that virtually rules out hackers getting their hands on users’ data. Yet despite this protection, there’s a silent danger that hardly any smartphone users know about. Let your attention slip for even a moment, and it turns out others can easily spy on your WhatsApp chats – without any hacking knowledge at all. We take you through several ways in which someone can do this.

Using a WhatsApp spy app

More and more commercial spying applications are appearing on the market with solutions for almost all kinds of smartphones. With a spy app, any amateur with a desire to know everything you are doing on your smartphone can do so. Once installed a spy app can get remote access to any WhatsApp account data and all the activities on any iPhone or Android phone. That means they can access incoming, outgoing or missed calls, appointment calendars, photos, locations, and much more. The demand for such services is astonishingly high, with users tending to be either jealous couples or worried parents.

Many people choose to use the popular mSpy app, for which there are various ways to activate the service. On iPhones, it’s particularly easy as all the spy needs are the victim’s Apple ID and password. Both of which are typically not that hard to find out – especially within the circle of family and friends. Equipped with these login credentials, the snoop can then access iCloud backups, which are usually created daily via the service’s online dashboard.

When using mSpy with Android devices things get more complicated. With these devices, direct smartphone access is required for the spy to install the mSpy app which then transmits the data to the service. But there are two snags: First, the snoop needs to know the victim’s Google password; second, the whole thing only works on rooted Android devices (meaning that the user has access to deeper system functions, which is only possible with complex fiddling around). In addition, mSpy comes with a hefty monthly or yearly subscription price.

Exploiting WhatsApp Web as a spying tool

Those who want to spy on your WhatsApp activity have another approach – and one that’s free – with the WhatsApp Web Service. Users can use the messaging app directly from their personal computers, which although convenient, unfortunately, is also subject to some risk. “Can I borrow your phone quickly?” might not be as harmless as it sounds. To get started spying, the snoop just needs the target’s smartphone long enough to take a photo of the QR code displayed on the computer screen using the WhatsApp app on the victim’s smartphone. Once that’s done, the snooper can then view the victim’s entire chat history on the PC and comb through it at leisure. The flow of juicy details continues as the chat history gets updated each time the victim’s smartphone connects to the home Wi-Fi network.

How to check if you are being spied on in WhatsApp Web

With WhatsApp Web you can easily see if you’re being spied on and put it to a stop by checking your settings. In the mobile WhatsApp app, go to the Settings and look at the area called WhatsApp Web/Desktop. Here you can see when the service was last active. So, if you’ve never connected WhatsApp to your PC, or you see entries that aren’t from your own activity, don’t waste time and hit the “Log out from all devices” button to disconnect from the sinister connections.

The MAC spoofing hacker method

A more complicated way to spy on someone’s WhatsApp is by employing a hacker method called “Mac Spoofing”. Every mobile phone accessing the internet has a unique ID called a MAC (Media Access Control) that consists of various numbers and letters. So, MAC spoofing means that a snoop pretends to have the target’s smartphone by utilizing a special app to swap their own device’s MAC address with the one of their victim’s.

While it sounds complicated, the whole thing is relatively simple when carried out within the close circle of family or friends. The first, and more difficult hurdle, is that the snoop needs to have access to the victim’s smartphone for long enough to find out its MAC address located in the device settings. The snoop then just needs to plant the captured MAC address into their own smartphone using a spoofing app. Now comes the second hurdle, once WhatsApp is installed on the snoop’s smartphone, they’ll need to enter the victim’s phone number and get hold of the required verification code that gets sent by SMS to the victim’s smartphone. After this is set up, they can keep tabs on the victim’s WhatsApp messages and write messages posing as the victim. 

Steps you can take to avoid being spied on

So, now you know that some pretty simple methods exist that allow someone to spy on your WhatsApp activities. Luckily there are easy steps you can take to block intruders and spy apps. First, take precautions to not leave your smartphone out of sight, or lying around where others have access to it. Second, it’s best practice to never share your unlock code or passwords. Lastly, be wary of who you lend your smartphone to. You can also check out this article with helpful tips on how to secure your Whatsapp account 

There are further measures you can take to boost the protection of your phone or other digital devices. For example you can install a free app for your mobile phone that increases your smartphone privacy with features like spyware protection or an app lock, that will block access to apps you have on your phone to other people. 

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