WhatsApp fixes 'problem' that may have leaked your chats on Google

Your Private WhatsApp Group Chat Can Easily End up on Google Search

Your private WhatsApp group chats could be a Google Search away from being compromised

WhatsApp has an "Invite to Group via Link" feature that lets an admin invite other people to join a group chat by sending over an invite link. The surprise here was that they're indexed by Google.

DW's Jordan Wildon discovered the bug on Friday. Like with other messaging platforms, WhatsApp group chats are a popular way to communicate with your family or groups of friends, colleagues, or Internet strangers.

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A journalist tweeted that WhatApp Groups may not be as secure as people think they are as Google was indexing them. But, if you know your way around Google search, it may be possible to find links to just about any private WhatsApp group chat. App reverse engineer Jane Wong tweeted later that, Looks like WhatsApp has fixed it by removing the existing listing from Google and adding the "noindex" meta tag on the chat invitation links! In the hours following the report however, Google appears to have stopped showing results for that search, instead returning the message "Your search - site:chat.whatsapp.com - did not match any documents". Many of these results are invites for private groups. The website also joined a group of non-governmental organisations accredited by the United Nations and got access to all the details of the 48 participants and their phone numbers. Group admins should generate a new invite link to their WhatsApp group, because doing so will automatically invalidate the older one that has been indexed by Google.

"Search engines like Google & others list pages from the open web".

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WhatsApp is saying that links shared publicly on the internet are searchable, but that's handwaving the real issue here.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, may have known about this problem at least since November 2019, when they appear to have sent a reply to a user who notified them of the issue. "It may be encrypted in the middle, but if you are accepted into a group chat, you have the encryption key to read on", security firm ESET told Forbes in a statement.

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The biggest take-away for users is not to share their invites on public forums accessible by search engines.

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