People’s thirst for cool free stuff knows no borders, and mobile applications are no exception. The ordinary WhatsApp application may lack some features, while its WhatsApp clones offer additional functions, for example, creating passwords for chats (YoWhatsApp) and hiding the chats one wants to keep secret (GBWhatsApp).
At first glance, it sounds great, but unfortunately, there are some flaws. Unofficial WhatsApp clones turned out to be spying on their users, getting their personal information illegally. Such applications cannot be downloaded from Google Play or App Store, and as a result, they have not passed any security checks. So it is not a surprise that they are, basically, simple cell phone spy apps disguised as the popular messenger.
The arsenal of WhatsApp spy apps is really huge, as they can do the following:
- record one’s calls and audio messages;
- record videos from both cameras of your device;
- get access to all chats and media sent in them;
- pass the access keys to malicious actors.
It has been reported that China is in first place in terms of spy apps used, followed by India and Russia. Almost half of all mobile device users in these countries (even 53% in China) have cell phone spy apps installed on their gadgets. Obviously, they are not aware of it.
WhatsApp spy apps act pretty similarly to the original program, requesting permission to access photos, location, and so on, but don’t be fooled by this similarity. If WhatsApp itself needs your permission to access your photos to be able to upload the pictures and send them to other users, spy apps do completely opposite – steal your personal data. The original application accesses your location so that users can share it with each other in real time, while tricksters, well, who knows, how they will use it.
As the reports from such famous companies as ESET and Kaspersky state, a WhatsApp spy app can be used not only to blackmail some occasional users and get access to nudes taken in the bathroom. Some attacks may have a political and ideological background, be it influencing the election results in the United States or taking part in the ideological and information war in Russia.
A spy app may be aimed at your financial information. In the XXI century, many people have bank applications installed on their phones and cards linked to Apple Pay or Google Pay. It would not be cool at all to wake up one morning and see that someone has used your bank card for shopping or simply transferring all your funds to another account.
The main recommendation here is never to download any applications from suspicious sources. They do not pass security checks, so you get a cat in the bag. It might be tempting to get a cool-looking messenger with a bunch of new features for free but remember at what cost.