Disclaimer: This blog is totally meant for learning purposes. The techniques discussed here are to make you more informed and aware of the various malicious ways a hacker can exploit to steal your private information!
This blog covers the below-listed topics:
Check out this YouTube video on Ethical Hacking for better understanding:
Before digging into the ways to hack a WhatsApp account, let’s first see whether hacking a WhatsApp account is really possible or not!
Is hacking WhatsApp possible?
WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging service owned by Facebook and is developed by most intelligent developers. It has end-to-end encryption that enables only the sender and the receiver to see what is sent. It frequently resolves the security issues faced by users as well.
Certain things cannot be controlled by developers. For example, if you tell someone your email password and that person misuses it, then it is not exactly hacking. Nonetheless, even in this case, people claim that they have been hacked. Hence, it is by manipulating the users for passwords or OTP WhatsApp accounts are generally hacked.
Techniques for Hacking into WhatsApp Accounts
There are multiple ways or techniques where hackers usually try to get unauthorized access into your system/applications. In this blog, we will be discussing the most common and legal ways to hack WhatsApp accounts using Ethical Hacking for free.
Here is the list of techniques we will be discussing:
- Social engineering
- WhatsApp Web
- Google Drive backup
- Mac spoofing
- Third-party applications
Let’s go ahead and understand them one by one.
‘Can we hack WhatsApp without the victim’s mobile?’ is the most commonly asked question, and the answer is: Yes! Using the technique of social engineering, we can hack WhatsApp without the victim’s phone.
Social engineering is probably one of the most prevalent ways of gaining access to someone’s system/applications. In this, the hacker tries to manipulate the end-user into revealing crucial information, which can lead to the user’s system getting hacked.
For example, when you set up your Gmail account, you have an option to set up a security question like ‘What was your first pet’s name?’
And, if you forget your password, Google asks this question to you to really know whether it is you who is trying to get back into your account.
Now, what if someone tries to become friends with you and very casually asks about your love for animals, and then about whether you have a pet or what was the first pet you had!
Sounds scary, right? You will never suspect someone being able to hack into your account just by telling your pet’s name. But this is exactly how such simple things can be used to hack your account, and such ways are called social engineering methods of hacking.
In this, a user tries to interact with you socially and get information out of you, which probably can be used to attack your social media accounts.
Let’s take one more example of a social media hack. Have you ever got suspicious emails informing that you have won a lottery and giving you links to click on to claim your reward? I just hope you never clicked on those links! Once clicked, these links lead to websites that can steal personal information, including WhatsApp messages, from your phone without your knowledge.
In 2019, a social engineering attack was performed to hack WhatsApp accounts of several people. In this, scammers were sending text messages to people using WhatsApp with malicious links to verify WhatsApp accounts. Once you click on these links, you authorize your WhatsApp account to be logged in on the hacker’s mobile, thus giving access to all your information.
How to prevent social engineering hacks?
- Do not share your passwords and credential information to anyone
- Set the spam filter in your email settings to ‘High’
- Install antivirus software and firewalls to secure your device
- Do not click on suspicious links or links sent by strangers
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Using WhatsApp Web
If you have used WhatsApp, you probably would have used the feature of WhatsApp Web as well. It is a powerful tool, which allows you to login on any browser without any login and password and requires just a quick scan of a QR code from your WhatsApp account. This is one of the easiest ways to hack WhatsApp messages.
In here, these are the steps that a person takes to hack a WhatsApp account:
- Openthe browser on your device, and go to the web.whatsapp.com site
- Open WhatsApp from the victim’s mobile.
- Tap on settings; select WhatsApp Web, and scan the code on your device using the target device
- Now, you can gain access to the victim’s WhatsApp account
Because of the ease of use of this feature, more than being useful, it is exploited as well. The following are some scenarios:
- Someone may ask for your phone to make a quick call and, when you’re not paying attention, can use a browser to login to your WhatsApp. It hardly takes seconds!
- Suppose you logged into your WhatsApp account from your friend’s laptop and forgot to logout. In this case, your friend can access your account without using your phone.
How can you avoid this?
You can have an app locker on your phone and lock all your social media apps, including WhatsApp. This way, even if someone takes your phone, they will not be able to open WhatsApp.
Learn the basic Ethical Hacking lesson on our blog on the Ethical Hacking tutorial.
Using Google Drive Backups
Every WhatsApp user would have used Google Drive to store and synchronize the chat backup. Google Drive is also a powerful tool that can be used to hack WhatsApp messages.
Now, let’s think of a scenario where you have given your PC or smartphone to someone for work or maintenance and imagine that on this PC/phone, you have all your accounts logged in. Just by doing this, you are allowing someone to hack your WhatsApp messages.
Let me tell you how.
Below are the steps that a hacker needs to follow to gain access to your WhatsApp chat history:
- For this to work, your WhatsApp chat backup must be in sync with Google Drive. The hacker here will download the chat backup file and will mail it to his/her inbox.
- Then, the hacker will install WhatsApp on his/her device and enter your number in it. For verification, he/she might use any social engineering technique discussed above.
- Once done, he/she can simply use the Google Drive backup file downloaded earlier to restore all your messages on his/her phone.
With this, not only the hacker can use your WhatsApp account, but he/she will also be able to read all your personal messages.
How can you avoid this?
- Do not share your email ID or password with anybody
- Use strong passwords for your emails
- Do not leave your PC/smartphone unattended when somebody is using it
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Hacking WhatsApp Accounts Using MAC Spoofing
What are MAC and spoofing?
MAC address is a unique address that is used to identify a device on a network. Unlike IP addresses that can be dynamic in nature, every MAC device connected to a network has a unique MAC address.
Now, since every device in the world has a unique MAC address, it is used by applications for authorization purposes. Spoofing is one of the hacking techniques in which a person or device mimics the characteristics of some other device.
For example, on Facebook, a lot of times, you might have encountered fake profiles, where people enter false profile pictures and names to identify themselves as someone else.
Similarly, if a hacker gets to know the MAC address of your device, then he/she will be able to spoof a device that can mimic as if it is your phone connected to the Internet.
And with the above setup, the hacker will be able to hack your WhatsApp account. Your MAC address can be found using the following methods:
- For Android users: Go toSettings >About Phone > Status > Wi-Fi MAC Address
- For iPhone users: Go toSettings >General >About >Wi-Fi Address
- For Windows users: Go toSettings >About >More info
Once the hacker gets your MAC address, the following steps will be followed:
- Get the mac address, and then install a spoofing app, like Terminal Emulator for Android and MacDaddyX for iPhones, to spoof the mac address
- Install WhatsApp and enter the phone number of the target device
- Now, get the confirmation code from the victim’s mobile using social engineering techniques and restore the mac number on your device
This method requires technical skills, and accessing the victim’s mobile is not the end here since the hacker needs the mobile again for verifying the number, due to which this method is considered as the hardest one.
How can you avoid this?
Do not share your mobile with any stranger, and always use an app locker so that none of the apps are accessed.
Do you want to become an Ethical Hacker? Then read our guide on Ethical Hacker now.
Using Spying Tools
There are many spying tools available for both Android and iOS users to hack WhatsApp accounts online. Hackers can use these spying tools to see someone’s WhatsApp messages with ease. Sadly, most of these spying tools are free of cost as well.
Some of the free spying tools are Cocospy, FlexiSPY, iKeyMonitor, Hoverwatch, etc., and some of the paid tools are XNSPY, mSpy, etc.
The following are steps taken by most of the hackers, using spying tools:
- First, register with any of the spying apps and get a subscription plan if any
- Download the application on the target device
- Install the app, set up the basic permission, and select the activities that need to be tracked
- Now, press start monitoring and monitor the device from the dashboard available in the spying tool account
Here is an example of such a hacking activity. When you give your phone to someone, they can download and install these spying tools within minutes, and you will not know that there is an application running on your mobile.
In another case, you might also click on some suspicious link from a website or an email, which leads to this malicious software being installed in your device.
How can you avoid this?
Always use anti-malware software that can detect and remove any spying software and can notify you when there is any malicious software being downloaded in your device. Also, download apps only from authorized sources.
Let’s now summarize the techniques that we learned about so far.
|Techniques||Mac Spoofing||Spying Tools||Google Drive Backups||WhatsApp Web||Social Engineering Attacks|
| Advantages||Real-time message tapping||Fast and real-time message tapping||High success rate||Fast and easy||No need for technical skills|
| Disadvantages||Requires good computer skills||Need physical access to victims’ mobiles||No real-time message tapping||Easy to get caught||Cannot access old messages but can have all contacts|
How to prevent yourself from getting hacked?
Here are some of the tips to prevent yourself from getting hacked:
- Keep strong passwords and do not reuse old passwords
- Do not share your passwords or bank information with anyone
- Do not share your phone with a person whom you don’t trust
- If you use any private or shared device, make sure you log out from all your accounts after completing your work
- Try to use two-step verification wherever it is possible
- Download only from authorized sources
- Check app permissions before installing any application
- Lock all your social media apps using an app locker
Nowadays, WhatsApp has almost a billion users, and there are many techniques and tools to ethically hack WhatsApp accounts. In this blog, we have discussed the top 5 popular techniques used to hack WhatsApp accounts. Learn more about Ethical Hacking before trying out any of these.
If you have any queries regarding Ethical Hacking, reach out to us at our Cyber Security Community.