WhatsApp collects phone numbers, date and time and duration of phone calls

Researchers from the University of New Haven have discovered WhatsApp collects the time and date and the duration of phone calls amongst other information. The popular chat app with more than 800 million users was recently acquired by Facebook for $19 billion which made users concerned about their privacy.

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Also the researchers of the University of New Haven were concerned and decided that it is important to know how WhatsApp works and which forensic relevant information can be obtained from the app. For their investigation the researchers decrypted the connection between the WhatsApp app and the WhatsApp servers.

Through the network traffic the researchers were able to obtain all kinds of data, such as WhatsApp phone numbers, meta about phone calls and call duration. They also discovered WhatsApp uses the Opus codec for VOIP phone calls and they found the IP addresses of the relay-servers used to for calls. They also discovered WhatsApp uses the FunXMPP protocol for chats.

“Our research demonstrates the type of data that can be gathered through the forensic study of WhatsApp and provides a path for others to conduct additional studies into the network forensics of messaging apps,” said one of the researchers. Decrypting the network traffic isn’t simple, the authors suggest, “as both access to data on the device as well as the full network traffic is needed.”