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Communications Encryption Privacy Security

Univ. of New Haven Cyber Lab: WhatsApp Collects Phone Numbers, Call Duration, and More 67

An anonymous reader writes: A recent network forensic examination of popular messaging service WhatsApp at the University of New Haven's Cyber Forensics Research & Education Group is offering new details on the data that can be collected from the app's network from its new calling feature: such as phone numbers and phone call duration, and highlights areas for future research and study. The researchers provided an outline of the WhatsApp messaging protocol from a networking perspective, making it possible to explore and study WhatsApp network communications. (Also noted at The Register.)
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Univ. of New Haven Cyber Lab: WhatsApp Collects Phone Numbers, Call Duration, and More

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What a surprise!

    Apps!
    • FFS, this should surprise NO ONE.

      The default behavior for almost everything these days is to suck up as much information as possible no matter what the Terms Of Service say.

      I'd be surprised if it didn't also log the GPS coordinates, movement, and anything else it can grab.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously, everybody knows that WhatsApp was shite, is shite and will forever be shite. It does not matter. Everybody uses it, so everybody keeps using it. You would have to pay people to make them switch. It's not going to happen.

  • by TR NS ( 4242885 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @02:30PM (#50811851)
    Probably because Facebook is part of the Israeli intelligence apparatus. This is the same data collected by Amdocs, the Israeli company that handles virtually all records for land lines (http://www.tomflocco.com/fs/HouseHidesIsraeliTelSpying.htm)
  • Didn't my phone come with one preloaded? Why on earth would I need to get a new app to do what my phone already supports?
    • by Flavianoep ( 1404029 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @03:02PM (#50812165)
      Because in Brazil, a each SMS message (about 150B) costs about US$ 0,13, but for about US$ 0,20 money you can use 50MB of data for a day. People uses Whatsapp here because it's cheaper.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      In The Netherlands, literally 90% of smartphone users has Whatsapp.
      So there it is a defacto standard messaging app, just like SMS is but "free".

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      Does your phone give you free international SMS and MMS, including video?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In the USA, I can't get why people would use Whatsapp, having SMS virtually for free.

      In most of the rest of the world, only technically inepts or ignorants would use SMS, because for most people a mobile call cost the same or less than a single fucking SMS.

      And Whatsapp is so simple and featureless that you can explain it in five minutes to your grandma, and from then on the only trouble she would have will be finding the right key on her Android keyboard. Install an use, no user IDs, no password, no nothing

      • By contrast, in the UK most people have either practically, or else actually unlimited texts (SMS) with their mobile phone contracts. (Unless you only have the bare minimum monthly payment option). The same is true of phone calls.

        Whatsapp is still popular because you can send free videos/photos, and make free overseas calls, since monthly plans don't include limitless multimedia messages or calls abroad.

    • Didn't my phone come with one preloaded? Why on earth would I need to get a new app to do what my phone already supports?

      It lets you make free internet phone calls. You can also send free text messages. If you have a basic plan, you don't get many free minutes/texts, so it's a useful free (as in beer) service if you have many people you want to call or text a lot.

      The fact that they collect your data is hardly a surprise, and is no more or less sinister than facebook or google doing the same. If you want total privacy, don't use unencrypted messaging on the internet.

  • by Assoluto ( 4277481 ) on Tuesday October 27, 2015 @02:38PM (#50811931)

    ...Being tracked by Zuk

    I'm generally pretty privacy concious (use a VPN for all browsing, self destructing cookies, fake accounts everywhere, no account for Facebook, Twitter, etc). However, with your phone it's impossible to avoid being tracked by Google and Facebook. I have no mobile data plan and keep my Wifi off most of the time, but I still suspect they get a lot of data on me.

    Windows has gone in the same direction and it's impossible to use that without being tracked by Microsoft. Linux is the only remaining option for anyone with concerns about privacy. Sadly, most people don't have any concerns about privacy and don't realise how they can be harmed and exploited through their data.

    I think the privacy war is over, and we lost.

    • owever, with your phone it's impossible to avoid being tracked by Google and Facebook

      What? If you don't have a Facebook account, you don't have their apps. If you don't have their apps, they aren't tracking you.

      If you install a different OS, Google will not track you.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Except that isn't true.

        http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/31/facebook-tracks-all-visitors-breaching-eu-law-report
        https://www.google.com/analytics/

        • Oh, you mean you surf the web from your phone and you don't block facebook/google. The same shit happens on your desktop. Block facebook's and google's domains then (or at least all of facebook and Google's analytics).... just like you should on your desktop.

      • If you install a different OS, Google will not track you.

        As we're talking about phones, the only alternative OS is Apple. And they track you worse than anyone.

    • Sadly, most people don't have any concerns about privacy and don't realise how they can be harmed and exploited through their data.

      i dunno, i've been using the internet since it's inception and i've never been harmed. what exactly are you talking about?

      • Sadly, most people don't have any concerns about privacy and don't realise how they can be harmed and exploited through their data.

        i dunno, i've been using the internet since it's inception and i've never been harmed. what exactly are you talking about?

        You're probably not a drug dealer, paedophile or gun-smuggling terrorist, unlike most people on slashdot.

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Did you look into using a phone based on something else than Android, Windows, or iOS?

  • If you aren't paying for a service, you aren't the customer. You're the product being sold.
    • It's worse, when you first use Whatsapp it's offered free for a year, after which you have to pay a modicum yearly to keep using the service, yet I've never heard of anyone paying to use it, and you are still the product being sold.
    • If you aren't paying for a service, you aren't the customer. You're the product being sold.

      queue the guy that thinks he's dropping some profound knowledge on the unenlightened masses. everyone knows that. we know it, and we're okay with it.

    • If you aren't paying for a service, you aren't the customer. You're the product being sold.

      So? No one's forcing you to use these free services.

      Why is there this feeling that you are entitled to everything for free?

      Until we turn into something like Iain M Banks's post-scarcity Culture there really are no free lunches.

  • Can someone replace the Net-Security link with the original source: http://www.newhaven.edu/news-e... [newhaven.edu] Those infosec professionals just copy-pasted the original text on their website and are passing it as their own.
  • I use whatapp on my 50$ fire and I had to use a used simcard to activate it, since apparently whatsapp "doesn't work on tablets" but I didn't know that. :-)

    I had bought a a few dozen used prepaid simcards on ebay just for these purposes, to receive a single SMS before throwing it away.
    Lots of sites have begun to use such systems and this is the way to circumvent that.
    It's cheaper than burner phones.

    • I use whatapp on my 50$ fire and I had to use a used simcard to activate it, since apparently whatsapp "doesn't work on tablets" but I didn't know that. :-)

      I had bought a a few dozen used prepaid simcards on ebay just for these purposes, to receive a single SMS before throwing it away. Lots of sites have begun to use such systems and this is the way to circumvent that. It's cheaper than burner phones.

      Unless you're James Bond, who could be bothered?

  • If researchers were able to crack encryption, it means crooks can do it too.

    Not only this app spy on its user on behalf of its creator, but it can also be used by third parties.

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