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.