A security researcher recently discovered that a lot of WhatsApp and Telegram Group invite links that may not be up for public viewing are appearing in multiple search engines like on Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and Bing.
On Friday, researcher Jordan Wildon, a multimedia journalist at Deutsche Welle warned that owing to a critical issue, several illegal groups and activities along with genuine private groups were exposed.
In the light of the leak, various security measures have been taken by both the companies, however, to erase the links from public searches completely so that they are no longer discoverable by people to join will require much more efforts.
This critical flaw not only abused the privacy of the aforementioned messaging apps by exposing around 450,000 groups online but also allowed data mining as the phone numbers were made available directly.
Notably, these messager apps’ invite links have been indexed by several search engines. Due to this indexing feature, WhatsApp and Telegram group invite links are also being displayed publicly by these search engines and the visibility increased the reach even further. Two major happenings took place due to these leaked links – Unwanted and uninvited people joined various groups through the invite links and it also paved an easy path for hackers to discover other conversations through brute force attacks.
While addressing the issue, WhatsApp has seemingly removed the invite links for groups from Google and the company also took other steps in order to prevent indexing.
Wildon took to Twitter to provide updates, “JUST IN: Google appears to have removed indexing of WhatsApp links. Other major search engines appear to still be indexing chat links.”
“UPDATE: This has been fixed on Google, but results are still available elsewhere. If you’re concerned, I’d recommend going into group settings, tapping “Invite to Group via Link” then “Reset link”. he tweeted.