In recent days, several entities, including the leading company in proactive threat detection, ESET, analyzed the risks of using tools, sites, extensions and applications that promise citizens, just by entering the word “spy” in a search engine , full access to the information of the couple, a family member or also friends.
“Given the number of users who are willing to try some of the many alternatives that appear in the first Google results when searching for ‘how to spy on WhatsApp or someone else’s phone’, it seemed important to us to analyze some of these options to raise awareness about the privacy and security risks of trying these alternatives, ”said Daniel Barbosa, researcher at ESET Latin America.
And he added that “by way of advance, it is important to mention that the sites and extensions that we analyze do not fulfill what was promised and seek to deceive the large number of users who go to the web in search of options to spy on someone else’s phone. . Although we have not detected that computer threats are distributed that try to compromise the users’ device, these, for the most part, only seek to distribute it is pure advertising, however, many have the potential to do so ”.
On the other hand, to understand the interest that these types of apps arouse, it is estimated that between 2019 and 2020, the growth in the use of these applications grew by almost 50%, relevant data in terms of security and privacy of this type of apps, provided in the latest ESET research.
In the report, they analyzed more than 58 spy apps and found that many of them have a large number of vulnerabilities that pose a risk to the privacy of both people spied on and those who spy.
Likewise, in a report by Xataca, a publication by Webedia, an international digital group dedicated to entertainment, it was stated that “spying on someone’s WhatsApp is not easy, and this entails legal consequences.”
They also said that “for several years, all WhatsApp conversations have been encrypted from end to end, so that, although someone could intercept the messages with some type of cyber attack to obtain important data through some technique that intervenes in the process communication, I could not read the content without having the encryption key, which is only available locally on the mobile phones of the chat participants ”.
But then how can it be that there are so many applications and services that ensure that it is easier to spy on someone’s WhatsApp?
ESET warned that “all the analyzed sites have practically the same structure and the end is very similar: a screen that simulates that many commands are being executed to access the information of the telephone number provided, but in reality it does not execute anything. It is only about texts already programmed on the page and no traffic is generated when the information is entered in the fields ”.
“Although some of these sites show images that to the user’s eyes may seem convincing, what these sites offer is a lie. It would be irreversible damage to the image of WhatsApp if the sites could actually access the encrypted information of their customers simply by entering a phone number, ”added ESET specialist Daniel Barbosa.
Another easy answer, according to Xataca researchers, is that “the vast majority of these applications and sites are simply a scam, applications that do not deliver what they promise, but pretend to do something.”
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Is it legal to spy on WhatsApp?
Faced with this problem, the researchers from both entities presented the legal consequences of these actions, at the same time that they issued a series of recommendations to avoid falling.
“Not. It is not and is contemplated by the Computer Crimes Law that when these cases occur, which are very frequent today, you must go immediately and take the equipment or device, to the Attorney General’s Office to report it, since it has been consummated a crime, regardless of whether it is your wife or husband, siblings, relatives, bosses in front of their subordinates … ”, said the experts.
Seeing someone else’s cell phone without their authorization is a crime called abusive access to a computer system. The punishment could be up to eight years in prison, according to the Police code.
This is how you protect WhatsApp from spies
The experts recommended blocking the mobile. “The only methods that can be used successfully to spy on someone’s WhatsApp require access to the other person’s mobile, so if you protect it with a password, PIN or, better yet, with a fingerprint, you prevent it from being possible.”
“It is also important not to lose sight of the mobile when it is unlocked, if you have it configured so that it does not lock when you are at home or similar situations.”
Also, activate the mobile antivirus. Android mobiles come with a standard antivirus built into Google Play, Google Play Protect. This antivirus will detect possible remote control spy apps that could be spying on you without warning, while remote control apps that pose as legal, such as Teamviewer, warn when someone connects with a notification.
Don’t post your phone number. The only way to prevent someone from using an application to find out whether you are online or not is if they don’t know your phone number. “Unfortunately, WhatsApp is still closely linked to phone numbers, so everyone you share a group with can see it.”
In conclusion, the experts said that “these measures should make it almost impossible for someone to spy on your WhatsApp, and the good news is that most applications are really scams, so that citizens do not have much to worry about. The greatest threat is found in WhatsApp Web, although this can be avoided if the mobile is not lost sight of and by checking and closing open sessions from time to time ”.