Spying on WhatsApp continues to arouse interest, with recurring Google searches despite the fact that it is a completely illegal activity. Similarly, although the Google Play Store does not allow this type of practice, there are applications that promise to “spy” on WhatsApp users, although none of them do what they promise.
We have done some searches in the app store, to try to find those applications that promise to track, spy and other illegal practices. We tell you If they work, if they don’t, ways to spy on WhatsApp and tips to avoid being spied on.
They promise to spy, but they can only tell you if someone is online
The first thing to keep in mind when thinking about the possibility of spying on someone’s WhatsApp is that the conversations are end-to-end encrypted, so it is simply impossible for someone to spy on another user’s conversation history.
Still, searching the Google Play Store we found dozens of apps with spy icons, under the name of “tracker, radar, hack” and other keywords related to spying on WhatsApp. If we search for “spy on WhatsApp” dozens of applications appear, being striking that the Google application store does not block this type of search equations.
In view of the fact that it is not possible to spy on the conversation history, the applications that appear in the Play Store take advantage of one of the few data that WhatsApp offers us whether we want it or not: information on whether the person is online or not. WhatsApp allows you to hide the last connection time, but always reports if the person is online.
These types of applications allow register the phone numbers we want to notify us about connection and disconnection, something quite far from espionage and that, incidentally, ends up being very annoying, since you receive dozens of notifications (connection, disconnection, connection, etc.)
Based on this connection time, some of these applications compare connection time to see if there are matches between contacts, to try to predict whether two people have been talking. These types of apps have no guarantee, since they are based on a mere coincidence between connection hours, without any official data.
Beyond these applications, Outside the Play Store there is also a wide range of services that promise to be able to spy on WhatsApp. Fortunately, Google Play Protect blocks the installation of these types of apps in most cases, since they are malicious software.
As we have seen, it is not possible to spy on WhatsApp conversations because of the encryption, but these apps promise to do it. The Play Store itself warns that These apps ask for more permissions from the account to try to spy on our personal data, such as SMS, information from your mobile or subscribe to services that you have not accepted.
Basically if you want to spy on WhatsApp with external APKs, it is most likely that you are the one who gets spied, so the recommendation here is, in addition to avoiding these types of apps in the Play Store, forgetting them completely outside the Google store.
What information they can get about your contacts
Fortunately, these applications cannot offer information beyond the connection time. In some cases these apps calculate the connection time of the person, to provide data on how long they have been connected. Although this is not a spy method, it is a good way to undermine a person’s privacy, having the data of how long they have been with WhatsApp.
Beyond this, The apps in the Play Store cannot obtain any data about your contacts. The conversations, as we anticipated, are end-to-end encrypted, and it is not possible to obtain information about them.
What we will have to be careful with is with the data they obtain about us, since many of these applications try to abuse our permissions, as well as try to sneak subscription services after short trial periods. This is mainly the monetization method for these apps (apart from advertising): offering you the service for free for a few days and trying to charge you for the subscription days later.
The (small) danger of WhatsApp Web
WhatsApp Web is the official WhatsApp service to be able to log in from the computer and forget the mobile. Although it is not easy, you can spy on a person’s conversations with this service, if the necessary conditions are met.
For this to happen, it would be necessary that someone, physically, would pick up your mobile phone and log in with WhatsApp Web on their PC or on another mobile. In this way, you would have your conversations open after scanning the QR code, since WhatsApp Web does not require being connected to the same mobile WiFi network.
However, it is possible to know which sessions are active on WhatsApp Web to check if there is an intruder in your conversations so, added to the fact that they need to have physical access to your phone for a few minutes, it is not too much of a problem if we are careful. In the same way, WhatsApp Web notifies us when someone logs in, so we will be warned even if we do not consult the active sessions.
The precautions to take to protect your WhatsApp
Although we have seen that It is not so easy for someone to spy on your WhatsApp, it never hurts to protect our mobile, both to protect WhatsApp and to defend ourselves from anyone who wants to have access to it.
- Biometric methods, always active: if your mobile has a fingerprint reader or 3D facial recognition (2D is not safe at all), we recommend activating it. This, along with a good password or PIN, will make an attempt to access your device more difficult.
- Set up automatic lock: If you have, for example, the automatic lock set to two or a minute, you are leaving a “wide” window of time for someone to access your mobile in an oversight. For security reasons, it is best to lock the phone as soon as possible, so you can configure the screen shutdown time in the shortest possible time so that the mobile locks.
- When you open WhatsApp Web, check the active sessions: it takes no more than 10 seconds and is a good habit. Every time you log into WhatsApp Web, keep an eye on the most recent sessions. If you see something that doesn’t suit you, log out to expel anyone who has been able to connect to your WhatsApp.
- Keep Google Play Protect active– No need to install any third-party antivirus. By default, Google Play Protect is active, so make sure it has not been deconfigured. This service will notify you when a malicious app wants to abuse your permissions.
- Your phone number, only in your closest circle: by means of your phone number you can know if you are connected with the applications we have talked about. As a general security measure, the fewer people who know your personal number, the better.