Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Your WhatsApp number could be available on Google search.

WhatsApp can reveal your phone number in Google searches

Your phone number could be found in Google Search results!

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app probably because of the simple User Interface and an end to end encryption? Users are also given you the opportunity to add extra security to their accounts using two-step verification which protects your data from hackers or scammers.

WhatsApp can reveal your phone number in Google searches

However,  Security Researcher, Athul Jayaram discovered that a WhatsApp feature called “Click to Chat” allows Google Search to index them for anyone to find. A WhatsApp spokesperson told Threatpost that the issue didn't qualify for a bug bounty because "it merely contained a search engine index of URLs that WhatsApp users chose to make public."

Anyone who gets hold of the URL can know can message them, call them or sell their phone numbers to marketers, spammers, scammers

 How to use Google to find your WhatsApp number?

WhatsApp has a domain name, ‘wa.me’ which was created as part of WhatsApp's Click to Chat feature. Click to Chat lets businesses or individuals put links on their websites so that people (mostly potential customers) can easily send them WhatsApp chat messages through mobile apps or WhatsApp's own desktop software.

Finding a WhatsApp number is very simple. Google allows you to search for narrow specific domains like ‘wa.me’. Just type site:wa.me of the search bar and a pop-up list will come showing numbers used to register WhatsApp.

WhatsApp can reveal your phone number in Google searches

A listing of Los Angeles phone numbers associated with WhatsApp's Click to Chat feature. (Image credit: Future)

The search query can be modified to procure numbers with specified country or area codes. So "site:wa.me +1 213" gets you all the Click to Chat links that include the Los Angeles area code. 

The researcher maintains that many Click to Chat users are unaware that their phone numbers are being stored in plaintext, indexed by Google Search, and discoverable via a relatively simple search query.

However, at the moment, the issue has been fixed and the phone numbers are no longer searchable.

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