Spying in simple terms is secretly obtaining information about competitors, enemies or even friends. WhatsApp spying falls under the broad category called Cyber Spying. According to Wikipedia, Cyber spying, or cyber espionage, is the act or practice of obtaining secrets and information without the permission and knowledge of the holder of the information from individuals, competitors, rivals, groups, governments and enemies for personal, economic, political or military advantage using methods on the Internet, networks or individual computers. This may be done by spies, moles, amateur hackers and software programmers.
Our focus is on WhatsApp Spying, which is the activity of secretly monitoring conversations of another person’s whatsApp account by getting access to chats, videos, voice notes, documents and so on.
Why do people spy?
Like the adage says, different strokes for different folks. People spy on WhatsApp for different reasons.
Cheating Spouses: When trust is being questioned, partners or lovers monitor one another. They try to know who the other person talks to, what they discuss; duration spent conversing and so on. This situation may arise when the other party feels he or she is not getting the attention he/she deserves. It could also be that the first person is noticing some signs showing that the other person is unfaithful.
Parental Control: In order to keep their children safe, parents spy on their children’s chats. They monitor their children’s online activities to protect them from cyberbullying, sexual predators, cyber stalkers and so on.
Employee Monitoring: Employers do these to monitor their workers. This is usually done to know if company’s secret is being shared or to know the time spent online while the employee is expected to be working (slacking at work).
Phone protection: There are times individuals spy on their own phones in case of loss or theft. By pre-installing the spy app, they are able to monitor what the phone carrier does so as to get the phone back.
Criminal Activities: Certain individuals try to take advantage of non-suspecting individuals. By monitoring their chats and online activities, they can get access to bank account details, pins and other related financial keys. We have also seen cases in which nudes of victims are leaked.
How is Spying done?
After much research, I have classified these into three.
- The MAC Spoofing Technique: The process of masking a MAC address is known as MAC spoofing. MAC spoofing technique is done by changing a factory-assigned Media Access Control (MAC) address of a network interface on a networked device. To do this, you only need to go to the settings on the phone. You can also get this if the two devices are connected to the same wireless network. You can then extract the MAC Address of the phone you want to spy.
Note that this article is not to teach you how to spy but to protect yourself from being spied upon.
- Using Spying Applications: There are tens of professional spying applications (both for android and apple devices) that can be installed on the device you wish to spy on. Sometimes you may have to pay for the service while there are few good ones that are free too. I will not be able to recommend any in this article because I am not teaching you to spy. May be in the coming articles. All you need to do is to install the application on the victim’s phone and you can monitor everything. It is even worse in iPhones as you may not need the victim’s phone to do it.
- By using WhatsApp Web: In 2015, WhatsApp launch the WhatsApp Web Service for direct connections on PCs and Macs. This is a great innovation. However, this innovation also inadvertently introduced a considerable risk to the safety of its users. By accessing the WhatsApp web service site and scanning the QR Code, you can get information you desire from the phone. WhatsApp web will simulate the WhatsApp account on a device with all the chat logs, access to download movies media, view status and even send the messages.
How do you know you are being spied upon?
There are different ways to know. Though this depends on the means by which you are being spied upon. In the case of WhatsApp Web, the cell phone itself gives a form of notification.
If you missed it then you can check the account usage by following these steps:
- Open WhatsApp.
- Click on the menu option indicated with 3 vertical dots at the top right corner.
- Here click on WhatsApp Web option and you can check for any device or App which has access to your WhatsApp.
If one or several computers with open session appear which you have not given access to, then your WhatsApp account is compromised to another device. Your account is “intervened” and they are spying on you.
What to do?
Step 1: Log-out ofall the sessions that are open and the person will lose access to your account immediately.
Step 2: Configure the WhatsApp with App Lock. Inthis way, even if someone gets your phone, they cannot access the WhatsApp application and connect it to a PC or other App via WhatsApp Web.
Step 3: Enable two-step verification.To do so go to;
WhatsApp → Menu options at Top Right → Settings → Account → Enable 2 Step-verification.
Additional Security Measures
The steps describe above can protect your whatsApp directly, however there is another means to get access to your whatsApp backup chats, pictures, videos, audios and voice notes even with locked WhatsApp Accounts . This is done via your file manager. And it can be done by someone who has access to your phone. It is therefore advisable to lock your file manager too.
Above all, only allow trusted people near your phones and do not trust anybody with very sensitive information that may be used to hurt you back.
I hope you find this post helpful. Do comment below for any assistance or support if needed. Do provide your valuable suggestions to improve this blog. Meanwhile, look forward to my next article on “How Secure Is Your WhatsApp Encryption?”