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WhatsApp Web Version Bug Compromises Users’ Photos

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Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015


WhatsApp launched the web version of its acclaimed instant messaging software in January’ 2015. The web version of the platform not only allows users to check and reply to messages through a browser, it works as an extension of Smartphone by keeping the conversations alive on mobile devices. However, a recently discovered software bug now threatens to undermine the privacy of users exchanging messages through the web version of the instant messaging platform. The bug was first discovered and reported by teenage whizkid and security blogger Indrajeet Bhuyan.

As per the details made available by Bhuyan, a software glitch exists within the web version of the platform which makes is possible for anyone to view any other user’s profile photo even when the user has set the option to make the photo visible only to his or her contacts. This is unlike the mobile version of the software where people cannot view profile photos of strangers or completely random users unless the photo is set to be visible to everyone. While this isn’t likely to be a big issue for most people, the fact that the mobile and web versions of WhatsApp are behaving differently and the choices made by the user in the mobile version are not being carried to the web version is definitely a cause of concern. This issue would also prevent people who jealously guard their privacy from using the web version of the messaging platform.

Apart from the above issue, Bhuyan also discovered that photos deleted from WhatsApp message streams were still visible in the web version of the platform. As you may know, once you delete a photo or video from a conversation, WhatsApp shows a blurred image to let others know that the photo or video has been deleted and is no longer viewable. However, Bhuyan found that even deleted photos were clearly visible in the web version of the platform even as they were shown as blurred on mobile devices. Here again, it appears that the mobile and web versions of the software are working differently plus it is also quite clear that message streams appearing in mobile and web versions are not in sync.

This is not the first time that software glitches have been found in WhatsApp. As we mentioned in a previous article (which is available at https://vpncoupons.com/how-secure-is-whatsapp/), WhatsApp’s security and privacy record has been quite poor. However, the company seems to have won the trust of its users ever since it started encrypting conversations with a highly secure encryption system (read about it here – https://vpncoupons.com/whatsapp-gets-snowden-approved-encryption/).

The newly discovered software glitches show that there is a long way to go before the web version of WhatsApp can be dubbed as a totally secure messaging system. While the bugs are not that severe and there is no indication that messages or conversation streams have been compromised, it appears that the web client was released without adequate testing. Since the web version of WhatsApp is not available for all platforms or browsers (it is available only on Chrome browser and Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile platforms), the Facebook owned messaging giant may not be in a hurry to fix these seemingly small issues.


April 22, 2015
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