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WhatsApp chat spying? There’s an App for that!

by Mark Tyson on 3 May 2012, 12:10

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WhatsApp is a relatively new instant messaging program available on all the major mobile platforms. The app is very flexible in that it allows group chatting as well as sharing multimedia files. It’s a very popular download with a fast growing user base. Check the App Store charts from last week at the Washington Post,. It’s at number 6 of the paid app downloads chart on iOS.  On Android it’s free (for first year) and has been downloaded by tens of millions of users.

Though people have known that WhatsApp uses no encryption to send messages for a while, a new app for Android, WhatsAppSniffer Free makes spying on other user’s messages a very simple activity. As the Android Police website put it “it makes the process of pulling WhatsApp chats out of the sky stupid-easy, and that's never a good thing.”

Any WhatsApp user that is on the same Wi-Fi network as someone running this sniffer app can have their messages spied upon. This works across platforms except for BlackBerry who use their own servers.

The program requires root access and features:

  • Read conversations outgoing and incoming to Android, iPhone and Nokia phones.
  • They are separated by phone number
  • Notify when a message has been captured
  • Ability to start a debug session saving all logs
  • It matches phone numbers captured with agenda for coincidences


Someone who downloaded the sniffer app from Google Play commented “Scary. I was able to successfully sniff conversations even without having a WhatsApp account.” Several people have asked me to install WhatsApp but I didn’t want to because I already have free Skype (on 3) and Gmail on my Android which cover my on-the-go messaging requirements. Perhaps now WhatsApp will do something about how messages are sent in plain text, however with such momentum in the download charts it’s doubtful this news will have much impact on its popularity.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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Good to have a heads up on this - I don't use it myself, but know plenty that do. Cheers Hexus! :-)
I don't trust the app. It automatically uploads your contacts to it's servers and no where on its site does it mention what it does with your data afterwards or how long it keeps it or even what data is actually uploaded. You are not told whether it is only uploading peoples' names and numbers or also peoples' birth dates, addresses etc.

I did email them asking for clarification but they never responded.
The other thing I don't like is that it is asking the person installing the app whether it can upload other peoples contact data? This data should be scanned and check client side not on their system.
This should be fun to try on the University Wireless :)