WhatsApp Link Preview feature leaks your IP address

Ever since Facebook bought WhatsApp, the instant messenger has been mired in controversy. Here’s yet another WhatsApp vulnerability that can let a hacker uncover your IP address.

Hackers can easily uncover your IP address

A bug in the “Link Preview” feature of WhatsApp exposes your IP address to other users.

This bug was discovered by Indian hacker Rahul Kankrale who also wrote a proof-of-concept exploit for demonstration purposes.

Here’s how this exploit works –

  • Attacker creates a PHP file and log file on his server with the following og meta description.

<meta property=”og:description” content=”<?php
echo $_SERVER[REMOTE_ADDR]; $line = date(’Y-m-d H:i:s’) . ” – $_SERVER[REMOTE_ADDR]”;echo $line;
file_put_contents(’visitors.log’, $line . PHP_EOL, FILE_APPEND);?>” />

  • Attacker sends the URL of the aforementioned PHP file to the target.
  • When the target uses link preview for this URL, his IP address will be captured and logged in the log file present on the attacker’s server.

You can check out this exploit in action below.

Will WhatsApp release a patch?

Rahul Kankrale is an ethical hacker and promptly reports all vulnerabilities to the manufacturers. Needless to say, he reported this bug to Facebook as well.

Though Facebook’s security team recognized the issue, they flat out admitted that they can’t fix this vulnerability.

WhatsApp hack

According to Facebook, the only viable alternative is to disable “Link Preview” altogether. This, of course, is not possible given the number of users that use this feature.

How can you stay safe?

Keeping your IP address away from the prying eyes of hackers is essential. Since we won’t get a patch anytime soon, I suggest using a VPN to hide your original IP address.

You can download any decent VPN app for this purpose. I suggest using SurfEasy VPN, which is a trusted VPN provider owned by Opera.

‎SurfEasy VPN - WiFi Proxy
‎SurfEasy VPN - WiFi Proxy
Developer: SurfEasy
Price: Free+

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