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WhatsApp Phone Numbers Surface on Google: Should You Worry?

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WhatsApp numbers of random users are showing up on Google because of the company’s “Click to Chat” feature that helps generate dedicated links of user profiles. A researcher, who claims to have discovered the development, calls it a privacy issue and says that it leaks nearly three lakh phone numbers of WhatsApp users in plaintext. However, the issue isn’t as serious as it is being portrayed in the media as it only makes the phone numbers of those users searchable on Google who have chosen to make them public by generating their links. Also, no names or other private details are popping in Google Search.

The Click to Chat feature of WhatsApp allows you to create a link through which someone can connect with your WhatsApp profile directly. This omits the need of adding a phone number to your contact list to chat and gives a way to connect with individuals on the messaging app directly by using a link that includes the phone number of the WhatsApp contact.

WhatsApp has the Click to Chat feature for quite some time, and it’s been used by several businesses to connect with their customers without requiring them to store their numbers.

The issue was first reported by WhatsApp features tracker WaBetaInfo in February this year —around the same time when people found WhatsApp group chat invite links being indexed by Google Search. The group invite issue was fixed shortly after it came in the headlines as it could have allowed random people join private groups.

The phone number indexing is now back in news because researcher Athul Jayaram claims to “have discovered this privacy issue,” even though it has been known for a while in the wild, as we mentioned earlier.

Jayaram noted in a post on Medium that the mobile numbers associated with the links created through the Click to Chat feature are visible on Google Search as WhatsApp hasn’t restricted search engines to index the domain wa.me that is used for those links. He also mentioned that various marketing executives, cybercriminals, and fraudsters could target the users whose numbers are visible on Google through the indexing of the wa.me links.

Having said that, it is important to note that apart from phone numbers, Google doesn’t have a record of any other personal data of users who’ve used the Click to Chat feature of WhatsApp. Jayaram in some cases found that he was able to notice profile pictures and profile statuses of the users whose numbers are visible on search results. However, those details are only available if the users have set their visibility for everyone and one has to open each contact inside the WhatsApp to see their profile picture, an arduous task.

Jayaram reached WhatsApp parent Facebook last month to report his discovery under a bug-bounty programme. However, he said that the social networking giant rejected his report by saying that its Data Abuse Bounty programme doesn’t cover WhatsApp.

In a statement to Threatpost, a WhatsApp spokesperson said that while the messaging app is a part of the bounty programme, the researcher’s report didn’t qualify for a bounty since it “merely contained a search engine index of URLs that WhatsApp users chose to make public.”

That said, Jayaram noted in his post that WhatsApp should care about the issue and avoid it by disallowing the bots from crawling user links and encrypting the mobile numbers of its users who have created links using the Click to Chat feature.

Source: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/social-networking/news/whatsapp-users-phone-numbers-google-search-issue-2243080

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Google Chrome prepares new tab groups feature that creates groups automatically

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Months after announcing it, Google finally rolled out tab groups widely in the past couple of weeks. Now, an improvement could be coming to Chrome’s tab group feature — the ability to recreate them automatically.

In the latest Chrome Canary release, a new flag is present that describes a feature Google is working on. That flag, titled “tab groups auto create,” is one that has had us scratching our heads since it popped onto our radar earlier this week.

Google’s description, too, unfortunately doesn’t help matters. the company simply explains that the feature “automatically creates groups for users, if tab groups are enabled” in Chrome. What does that mean? We’re not entirely sure, but there are a few possibilities!

For one, Google might be able to remember tab groups from a previous session and drop them into a group when opened. Alternatively, Google could intelligently create groups based on similar types of tabs. At this point, it’s all up in the air. We can say pretty confidently, however, that this feature is not live in the latest Canary release.

Source: https://9to5google.com/2020/09/17/google-chrome-tab-groups-automatic-flag/

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Facebook Is Apparently Adding Instagram Stories to Its Key Application

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Facebook has built it no key that it would like to entwine Instagram into its principal blue app as a great deal as possible (to some Instagram users’ chagrin.) Its most recent experiment evidently requires placing Instagram stories right on Facebook.

In accordance to a report in the Verge, some Facebook customers have lately started looking at Instagram stories in their Fb story feeds. A Fb representative apparently verified the news to Matt Navarra, a social media marketplace commentator and advisor, and stated that it was a restricted examination. The representative added that Facebook would be listening to feedback from its group on the prospective new characteristic.

In a screenshot posted by a Twitter consumer and Navarra on Friday, Fb seemingly points out that not just anyone can view an Instagram story on Facebook. In get to do so, consumers have to website link their Instagram accounts to Facebook and have this viewing placing turned on. Fb states that men and women who don’t abide by a user on Instagram will not be ready to see that user’s tales.

Fb also purportedly pressured that even however tales will be in two sites, users’ overall practical experience would not improve. That is mainly because people will nevertheless essentially be sharing their tales with the similar persons on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, Instagram stories on Facebook (which will have a pink and orange circle) will surface with a user’s Instagram take care of. And even though the tales will be seen on Fb, end users will see all tale sights and replies on Instagram.

In new many years, Facebook has labored to convey all of its popular apps, which involve WhatsApp and Instagram, nearer with each other. Very last thirty day period, Facebook released a new exam working experience on Instagram messaging for some users. The new experience up-to-date the look of Instagram immediate messages and promoted the likelihood of chatting with individuals who use Fb.

Who knows, possibly in the foreseeable future we won’t have an application named Instagram or Fb. We’ll just have a person giant purple and blue app, owned by Facebook, that does almost everything.

Source: https://poptimesuk.com/facebook-is-apparently-adding-instagram-stories-to-its-key-application/175242/

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Cloudflare goes down; crypto websites hit

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Cloudlfare, an internet service provider responsible for various functions, went down Sunday morning, taking down many websites, including some crypto sites.

The company confirmed in a tweet it experienced issues around 9:24 am Eastern time caused by a third-party transit provider. Network stability returned around 11 am though Cloudflare said it is still monitoring for other potential problems. In a statement emailed to Cointelegraph, Cloudflare chief technology officer John Graham-Cumming said:

“Today we saw a widespread Internet outage online that impacted many multiple providers. This was not a Cloudflare-specific outage. Level 3/CenturyLink was responsible for an outage that affected many Internet services, including Cloudflare. Cloudflare’s automated systems detected the problem and routed around them, but the extent of the problem required manual intervention as well.”

A large majority of the internet uses Cloudflare. News reports noted several popular websites went down following Cloudflare’s network issues, including streaming site Hulu and cooperative gaming services PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

Crypto websites were not immune. Bitfinex Chief Technology Officer Paolo Ardoino tweeted that the Cloudflare outage caused any connection issues to Bitfinex Sunday morning.

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Cloudflare’s last outage made people question if crypto holders are truly decentralized. That outage reportedly affected Bitcoin transactions.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/cloudflare-goes-down-crypto-websites-hit

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