WhatsApp Group Chat Invite Links Indexed by Google Search, Let Anyone Enter Private Groups
Google appears to have stopped showing results for the particular search that served group chat invite results.
Controversy broke when a report on Friday revealed Google had indexed invite links to private WhatsApp group chats, meaning anyone can join various private chat groups (including several porn-sharing groups) with a simple search. Google since appears to have modified the search results to stop the invite links from being shown.
According to a report in Motherboard, invitations to WhatsApp group chats were being indexed by Google. Gadgets 360 was able to independently verify the existence of indexed invite links to private WhatsApp groups by searching for “site:chat.whatsapp.com” in Google after the report broke. 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.” We’ve reached out to Google to comment on the removal.
The vulnerability of chat invite links has long been discussed, since if access to the publicly shareable links gets into the wrong hands, anyone can enter a group.
The Motherboard team found private groups using specific Google searches and even joined a group intended for NGOs accredited by the UN and had access to all the participants and their phone numbers.
Journalist Jordan Wildon said on Twitter that he discovered that WhatsApp’s “Invite to Group Link” feature lets Google index groups, making them available across the internet since the links are being shared outside of WhatsApp’s secure private messaging service.
“Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are,”
Wildon tweeted on Friday, adding that using particular Google searches, people can discover links to the chats.
According to app reverse-engineer Jane Wong, Google has around 470,000 results for a simple search of “site: chat.whatsapp.com”, part of the URL that makes up invites to WhatsApp groups.
WhatsApp spokesperson Alison Bonny said: “Like all content that is shared in searchable public channels, invite links that are posted publicly on the internet can be found by other WhatsApp users”.
“The links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website,” Bonny told The Verge.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, tweeted: “Search engines like Google & others list pages from the open web. That’s what’s happening here. It’s no different than any case where a site allows URLs to be publicly listed. We do offer tools allowing sites to block content being listed in our results.”
The issue was reported to Facebook as far back as November, a security researcher claims.
Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are.
The "Invite to Group via Link" feature allows groups to be indexed by Google and they are generally available across the internet. With some wildcard search terms you can easily find some… interesting… groups. pic.twitter.com/hbDlyN6g3q
— Jordan Wildon (@JordanWildon) February 21, 2020
A misconfiguration by WhatsApp enabled ~470k Group Invite links to be indexed by search engines
It should’ve been `Disallow`ed with robots.txt or with the `noindex` meta tag
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) February 21, 2020
I reported to facebook in early november pic.twitter.com/QB7pHsz5vu
— HackrzVijay 💻 (@hackrzvijay) February 21, 2020
Search This Site
Subscribe to Ghanablaze
VIDEO: Black Prophet – Times Like This
Prophetic Music Production, responsible for the management of Ghanaian Afro-Rock Reggae Musician, Black Prophet is set to release his much-anticipated video for the hit song “TIMES LIKE THIS ” taken from the album STORIES OF LIFE produced by legendary Dean Fraser in 2016. Black Prophet…
LISTEN: Darkovibes Releases Debut Album, Tagged ‘Kpanlogo’
Ghanaian Afrobeats artist Darkovibes has unveiled his highly anticipated debut album ‘Kpanlogo.’ The album fuses elements of Ghanaian Afrobeat with hip-hop, rap, and trap, and features collaborations with Runtown, Mr. Eazi, King Promise, Kwesi Arthur, Joey B, Peruzzi, and Mugeez (R2Bees). ‘Kpanlogo’ has songs like…
Bra Jay Unlocks Another Banger Dubbed “Je T’aime” Featuring No Dey Mess Around
Talented Ghanaian Music Artists, Bra Jay serves us with another brand new tune which features No Dey Mess Around tagged “Je T’aime” , which was mixed and mastered by Cheche. Downlod below, Enjoy and Share!!! Bra Jay – Je T’aime ft. No Dey Mess Around…
Def Kweku Drops Another Single Alongside Koo Ntakra & Bra Jay Tagged “L’amour”
Listen and Download this brand new single from Def Kweku off his recently released Digital World EP tagged “L’amour” , which he featured Koo Ntakra and Bra Jay on this new record. This masterpiece was mixed and mastered by Cheche. Appreciate it below and share…