Are Free Messenger Services Really Safe To Share Private Information?
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messengers today. The messenger platform claims to have crossed 25 million active users in India and says it has a global user base of 350 million. Apparently, it is one of the coolest ways to talk these days and everyone loves being on it.
With a user base of 25 million in the country, it is not very difficult to imagine the huge amount of data accumulated on the app. The data, in form of messages, could be valuable information and you feel it is best to delete it - so that no one else can access it. We often delete messages, pictures and videos that are personal and sent through WhatsApp, and think we are safe from intrusion. But we forget that WhatsApp is not a device but a sever-based messenger application, and in just 35 seconds, a tech-savvy person can recall every single message.
Here are 6 easy steps to access your own 'history' on WhatsApp.
Step 1: WhatsApp decryption is possible by copying the database which is on your Android phone in the form of a file: /sdcard/WhatsApp/Databases/msgstore.db.crypt (encrypted database on SD card can be created by starting backup from WhatsApp's advanced settings: settings - more - Backup Chats or /data/data/com.whatsapp/databases/msgstore.db and wa.db).
Step 2: Extract this archive (Whatsapp_Xtract....zip) to a certain folder on your computer, such as C:\WhatsApp.
Step 3: Copy the database(s) to (say) C:\WhatsApp (on Android, you simply copy the whole folder WhatsApp on SD card to your computer [it can be C:\WhatsApp] and then copy the database file from C:\WhatsApp\Databases to C:\WhatsApp).
Step 4: You need Python and (for Android msgstore.db.crypt decryption) the PyCrypto library. The easiest way is to install ActivePython (on Windows, choose the 32bit version even if you have 64bit windows) is from here: http://www.activestate.com/activepython/downloads. Next, run Install pyCrypto.bat (contained in this archive).
Step 5: Now run whatsapp_xtract_android.bat or whatsapp_xtract_android_crypted.bat or whatsapp_xtract_iphone.bat.
Step 6: Now you can see all the messages in an HTML page.
Security experts have found many other ways to crack WhatsApp. In this technique, we can decrypt whole messages and can actually see the encrypted, saved message. Also, there are some websites like www.recovermessages.com that can help you recover deleted messages from WhatsApp. Here is how it is done.
Step 1: First follow the path: whatsapp/data/msgstore.crypt.
Step 2: Upload the encrypted file to www.recovermessages.com.
Step 3: After uploading, you can see all the messages in that file.
Although we have spotted a weak link in WhatsApp, which is one of the most used free messenger service, similar hacks are possible on other free messaging services, making them highly vulnerable. So one should keep in mind that no form of texting is private and only a thorough awareness of such practices makes people safeguard their interests.
About the author: Saket Modi is a Computer Science engineer from LNMIIT Jaipur. He is the CEO and co-founder of Lucideus.
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