Athul Jayaram, who is an independent cybersecurity researcher recently reported that many mobile numbers of WhatsApp web users are visible on Google search just via plain text. The researcher stated a massive privacy issue for users as more than 290000-300000 mobile numbers have been leaked and is easily accessible to internet users through WhatsApp’s Web Portal. The affected users belong from United States, India and the United Kingdom prominently amongst many others. What makes this a matter of concern is that these numbers are available on the open web and not the dark web.
When the researcher contacted the Facebook Officials to alert them about the issue, they said that data abuse is only covered for Facebook platforms and WhatsApp is not covered in this. According to Jayaram, this could have been avoided if WhatsApp would have encrypted the user’s mobile number and added robots.txt file which in turn does not allow any bot to crawl in their domain and a meta noindex tag on the pages.
This becomes a matter of concern for all WhatsApp users as their privacy is at stake. As of now, there is no official word from Facebook but we are looking forward to an update at the earliest which will fix this security issue.