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Application to spy on WhatsApp

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Valery Aloyants
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WhatsApp Web / WhatsApp for PC

As I explained to you in my tutorial on how to use WhatsApp on PC (and as you surely know), thanks to the service Web WhatsApp and to the official client of WhatsApp for Windows and macOS, you can “repeat” the WhatsApp application you have on your smartphone on your computer and tablet.

The operation of WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp for PC is very simple: just connect to a Web page or open the WhatsApp client for PC, frame a QR code with the smartphone camera and in a few seconds you get the ability to communicate with your contacts via computer or tablet.

Checking the option to stay connected, then, also eliminates the boredom of having to frame the QR code at each access: the next times you connect to WhatsApp Web or open the WhatsApp client for the PC, the connection with the smartphone is done automatically. And this is where a potential safety hazard lurks!

You must in fact know that WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp for PC do not require the smartphone to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the computer to function: they can also work under 3G / 4G network. This means that an attacker could scan the QR code of WhatsApp Web using his smartphone, access your WhatsApp and remain connected to it even if not connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your phone (therefore not being nearby).

At this point what to do? Well, surely the most effective solution is to activate a biometric recognition system on your device, that is, the unlocking through the face or the one that requires confirmation through the fingerprint. In this specific case, in fact, no attacker will be able to connect to WhatsApp Web / Desktop since access to the service must be authorized by the device owner.

Also, if you suspect that someone is using WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp for PC without your knowledge, open WhatsApp on your smartphone and close all active sessions. In this way, all active WhatsApp Web / WhatsApp PC sessions will be closed and will request access via QR code again. Here's how on Android and iOS.

  • Android: open WhatsApp, pigia sul pulsating (...) che si trova in alto a destra e seleciona la voce Web WhatsApp from the menu that appears. In the screen that opens, "tap" on the item Log out of all computers e dai confirms.
  • iPhone: open WhatsApp, go to the tab Settings che si trova in basso a destra e seleciona la voce WhatsApp Web / Desktop. In the screen that opens, "tap" on the item Log out of all computers e dai confirms.

Parental control applications

Applications for the parental control they are designed to monitor and limit the use of the smartphone by minors. They therefore allow you to block access to certain apps, limit the use of some applications to certain days and / or times and monitor all activities carried out on the phone. From a WhatsApp perspective, this means being able to find out when a person accesses the service, for how long and blocking and / or limiting access to the service. The content of the messages is usually not captured but depends on the parental control solution you are using.

There are many applications for parental control, both on Android and iOS (where however their operation is a little more limited due to the restrictions imposed by Apple). Usually they are paid, but you can try them for free for a few days. Here are a couple of the most used (and most advanced) ones currently available.

Qustodio (Android / iOS)

Qustodio is one of the best parental control apps. It is available for both Android and iOS and includes a wide range of very interesting functions: it allows you to monitor the use of apps (so you know when they have been performed and for how long), online searches, the geographical location of the device ( only on Android) and to limit the use of certain applications based on set days or times. You can try it for free for 3 days, after which to continue using all the functions you need to purchase its full version starting from 38,95 euros / year. More info here.

The initial setup of Qustodio is extremely intuitive. After downloading the app on the smartphone to be monitored, all you have to do is follow the initial configuration procedure specifying that you are new to Qustodio and typing name, emails e Password you intend to use to log into your account. Then indicate that what you are using is the a boy's device (i.e. a device to be monitored) and enter information about the minor holder of the phone: name, year of birth, gender, avatar and name of the device. After this step too, provide Qustodio with all the permissions it needs to work: if you use Android you have to move the administrative permissions lever to ON, if you are using an iPhone, instead, you must install the Qustodio profile in the device settings.

Mission accomplished! Now you can remotely monitor and control your smartphone simply by connecting to the Qustodio website and logging into your account (which must be validated by clicking on the link you will receive via email). At this point, to view the activities related to WhatsApp, select the tab Timeline and then the card Programs from the menu at the top right. If the WhatsApp application was used on the monitored phone, you will see the icon of the latter and its opening date.

To block and / or limit the use of WhatsApp, press the app icon on the Qustodio site and select the item Block or allow from the menu that opens. On the page that will open at this point, you can decide whether to allow the app to run (by moving the relative lever to ON or OFF) and / or whether to limit its operation to certain days / times.

Screen Time (Android / iOS)

Screen Time is another parental control app available for Android and iOS. It is free for the first 14 days, after which to continue to take advantage of all the premium features, including the blocking or the hourly limitation of the apps, you must take out a subscription of at least 33,99 euros / year.

To configure Screen Time on a smartphone to be monitored, all you have to do is download the app on the latter and specify that you are installing the app for your son / daughter. At this point, if you are using an Android terminal, agree to open the Play Store and install the Screen Time Companion App by pressing the appropriate button.

When installation is complete, go back to Screen Time, indicate that it is la prima volta you use the service and create your parent account by entering yours email address, then the child's name (hence the name of the owner of the phone to be monitored) and a Password to protect access to the app. After this step too, provide Screen Time with all the permissions necessary to work on the phone (on Android you must enable the app in the various system menus that are indicated to you, while on iOS you must install the app profile).

Mission accomplished! Now you can install Screen Time on your smartphone and log into the app as a parent (by entering the account data you created on the smartphone to be monitored) to monitor or limit the use of apps on the monitored person's phone. To access the main menu of the app just "tap" on the icon adjustment bars located at the top right. To view the list of apps used on the monitored phone, instead, just select the icon sheet (Always at the top right).

Alternatively, to view the list of apps used by the person you have decided to monitor, you can connect to the Screen Time site from your computer, log in to it using your account data and first select the item Children from the left sidebar and then the item App log from the screen that opens.

Spy apps for WhatsApp

An application for parental control, if properly configured, can become an application for spying on WhatsApp, but its functionalities remain confined to the scope of parental control (therefore they are quite limited).

Le spy apps, on the other hand, they are apps specifically designed to spy on user activities. They remain well hidden (usually they do not appear in the system menus) and act in a profound way on the system by capturing the phrases typed on the keyboard, capturing screenshots and stealing the messages exchanged on the phone. Those that really work are very expensive, so they are not within everyone's reach, but it is good to know about their existence to effectively defend against their action.

iKeyMonitor (Android / iOS)

iKeyMonitor is one of the most used spy apps in the world. It is available for both Android and iOS (where it needs jailbreak to be exploited to the full) and allows you to perform a wide range of operations: it monitors the messages exchanged on social and messaging apps (including WhatsApp), records words and phrases typed on the keyboard, record screenshots, monitor online searches and much more. You can try it for free for 3 days, after which it costs $ 22,49 / month.

After installing iKeyMonitor via its apk package (Android) or Cydia (iPhone), on the smartphone to be monitored, you can access its management panel by opening the browser, typing the address localhost: 8888 and activating your free trial by pressing the button Get 3-day trial license and entering a password to protect access to the app.

At this point, you can view iKeyMonitor main menu and access all its functions: keystrokes for words and phrases typed on the keyboard, Chats for messaging app messages, Call history for call history, App blocker to block apps from running, and so on. By acting in the app settings, you can also set the sending of geographical position and screenshots via email to an address of your choice. More info here.


How to avoid spy apps for WhatsApp

Spy applications are often invisible, but there are ways to "find" them and to prevent them from being installed by malicious people.

  • Use a secure unlock code - spy applications require physical access to the smartphone. That is why it is vital to avoid unauthorized access to your phone by using a secure unlock code. To set an unlock code on your smartphone, do the following.
    • Android: go to the menu Settings> Security> Screen lock, select the option PIN and enter, twice consecutively, the code to be used to unlock the device. From the menu Security> Fingerprint you can set the unlocking of the phone also by fingerprint (provided you have a smartphone with a fingerprint sensor).
    • iPhone: go to the menu Settings> Touch ID and passcode, select the option to set a code on the iPhone and type, twice consecutively, the code to be used to unlock the device. From the same menu, by pressing on the item Add a footprint you can also set up iPhone unlocking via fingerprint (assuming you have an iPhone with a fingerprint sensor).

  • Check the list of apps installed on your smartphone - in this way you will realize if there are any “suspicious” apps that you don't remember having installed on your smartphone. Here are the exact steps to take on Android and iOS.
    • Android: go to the menu Impostazioni> App, pigia sul pulsating (...) che si trova in alto a destra e seleciona la voce Show system from the menu that appears. This way you will be able to see the apps set as system apps as well.
    • iPhone: go to the menu Settings> General> Device and iCloud Space e pulsing sul pulsating Manage space found under the heading Device space.

  • Check for apps with advanced permissions - applications to monitor WhatsApp, be they spy apps or parental control apps, need advanced permissions to work. That's why it's a good idea to go into your smartphone settings and check the list of apps that have advanced permissions. Below you will find explained how to do it on Android and iPhone.
    • Android: go to the menu Settings> Security> Device administrators. If you have a root-unlocked device, open the app as well SuperSU / SuperUser and check if among the apps that have root permissions there are some suspicious ones.
    • iPhone: go to the menu Settings> Profile and Device Management.

  • Enter the access codes of the spy applications - as seen above, some spy applications allow you to access their administration panel by typing the address localhost: 8888 or address localhost: 4444 in the browser or by typing the code * 12345 in the phone number dialing screen. Try typing the following codes on your smartphone and, if spy apps are installed on it, you will find them.
  • Do not connect to public wireless networks - even if WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption and therefore makes the data exchanged with the service's servers "unreadable", it is always good to avoid public Wi-Fi networks, which are the favorite hunting ground for crackers ( i.e. bad hackers). Better to use the 3G / 4G data network.

If you find suspicious apps in one of the menus I just reported to you, disable and uninstall them following the standard procedure for uninstalling apps from your device. For more information on this, read my tutorials on how to uninstall Android apps and how to uninstall iPhone apps.

If you have an Android device, also remember to install a good anti-malware and keep it active to block spy apps and other malware designed for the green robot's operating system. For advice on the best antivirus for Android, check out my post on the subject.

ATTENTION: spying on WhatsApp without the permission of the legitimate account owner is a serious breach of privacy. This tutorial has been written for informational purposes only and I do not take any responsibility for the use that will be made of the indications in it.

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