2.78 billion users have chosen WhatsApp for its advanced security features like end-to-end encryption and password-protected chats. However, is this messenger as hack-proof as we believe?
As it turns out, even the most carefully engineered software updates can’t stand up to WhatsApp hacks crafted by highly skilled cybercriminals. Every bit of data is potentially vulnerable, whether it’s voicemails, disappearing messages, or contacts.
Now, let’s be clear, we don’t mean to scare or shock you. This post exclusively covers fact-checked hacking techniques. We will arm you with a deep knowledge of WhatsApp vulnerabilities so you won’t become easy prey.
In 2019, a security researcher Awakened conducted a series of tests to address the common question, “Can someone hack my phone by texting me on WhatsApp?” The results were surprising: a vulnerability in image processing enabled hackers to break into WhatsApp accounts using a simple GIF file.
The method involved embedding a malicious code into the GIF image, which the app executed when users opened the Gallery view to forward it. Innocent at first sight, this hidden bomb was potent enough to access conversations and contacts. Hackers could also retrieve shared files such as documents, photos, and videos.
Fortunately, Awakened informed WhatsApp about the vulnerability, and the company fixed it in a new update. Previously, GIF file attacks primarily targeted Android devices running versions 8.1 and 9. The key takeaway from this experience is clear: timely updates to your WhatsApp app can protect your data from sophisticated attacks.
Another alarming discovery that surfaced in 2019 was hacking into WhatsApp throughvoice calls.
Hackers exploited voice calls on WhatsApp to distribute infamous spyware Pegasus that didn’t require user interaction. Even if the target didn’t pick up the call, the spyware was still able to infiltrate the device. As a result, hackers accessed the chats, media files, and call logs and activated microphones on target devices without the user’s knowledge.
The attack exploited a buffer overflow vulnerability in WhatsApp’s code. This bug allowed hackers to send malicious data packets that exceeded the maximum information limit that WhatsApp was designed to process. When this occurred, it crashed the app and opened up a backdoor for attackers.
As with GIF attacks, WhatsApp developers eliminated the vulnerability through an update.
The term “social engineering” ranks high in Google searches for “Can you get hacked through WhatsApp?” This technique primarily involves psychological manipulation to steal sensitive data.
In 2018, a security firm, Check Point Research, reported a new type of such an attack called FakesApp. It enabled hackers to edit replies in WhatsApp group chats on behalf of other users. Other participants couldn’t spot changes to the original text, so cybercriminals manipulated and deceived them without being detected.
The most shocking part is that WhatsApp hasn’t released any security patches in response to the Check Point Research report. This means scammers can still use this technique to spread misinformation or gain confidential data Since it’s impossible to detect the FakesApp attack using the chat backup or logs, you should pay close attention to the chat context and, if possible, avoid acting impulsively.
WhatsApp hacks often target the basic features designed for our convenience. It’s surprising to think that cybercriminals could manipulate something as simple as automatic media file downloading, but they’ve managed to do so.
This attack is similar to cheating at poker: when players don’t have the winning combination, they can switch their cards with better ones hidden up their sleeves without anyone noticing.
Here’s how Media File Jacking attack works: a third-party app monitors shared files on your WhatsApp chats and swaps them with fake ones. Hackers can apply this technique in many ways. For example, if you’re a freelancer who sends a photo of your credit card to your clients, cybercriminals can swap it with a picture of their card.
Fortunately, Media File Jacking doesn’t target photos and videos stored in the cloud database that most messengers provide. However, if you prefer saving files directly to external storage, you should turn off automatic downloading to avoid risks.
Waves of cross-platform attacks have led users to question, “Can someone hack my WhatsApp using other social media accounts?”
Although WhatsApp has officially announced that other messengers can’t gain access to the content you share, the reality is different. Developer Gregorio Zanon uncovered the vulnerability related to Facebook Messenger. When Facebook and WhatsApp are installed on the same device running iOS version 8 or higher, they share a “container” for file storage.
This means Facebook can follow the file path to access and copy unencrypted WhatsApp messages. Yes, you read that right. Most messaging apps, including WhatsApp, encrypt messages during transmission to protect your data from interception. However, your device can also store them in an unencrypted, raw format. Hence, the Facebook app could potentially access them.
You might believe that cybercriminals need outstanding coding skills for hacking into WhatsApp. While complex techniques indeed require a deep understanding of system vulnerabilities, this isn’t always necessary, especially when it comes to spy apps.
Malware developers do not openly sell their products for obvious reasons. On the other hand, mobile spy apps are available on the Internet, legally sold for a mere 30 dollars. You can download them like any other regular software without going through identity verification.
The operating mechanism of spy apps ensures the target user won’t know about the data transmission you have set up. Once installed, the spy app sends all messages and calls from WhatsApp to a secure cloud server. You can access this data remotely from any device with an Internet connection.
Unfortunately, you can’t instantly detect signs of hacking into WhatsApp as most spy apps remain hidden within phone storage. However, you can run an antivirus scan to spot unknown files and extensions. We’ve compiled a list of the most widespread apps to help you identify them.
|App Name||Works On||Provides Access To||Hidden from You?|
|Eyezy||iOS 7.0+ Android 4.0+||-Private and groups chats -Call logs -Contacts -Shared photos and videos -Live location -Deleted messages||Yes|
|mSpy||iOS 7.0+ Android 4.0+||-Sent and received messages -Disappearing chats -Call logs with contact info -Photos, videos and links -Real-time GPS locations -Live screenshots||Yes|
|iKeyMonitor||iOS 9.0+ Android 2.3+||-Contacts -Messages -Call logs -Shared photos||Yes|
|SPYERA||iOS up to 14.X Android up to 13.0||-Private chats -Attachments -Profile pictures, names, and numbers of contacts -Audio messages||Yes|
|Cocospy||iOS 7.0+ Android 4.0+||-Chat history with timestamps -Contacts -Photos||Yes|
iPhone users who wonder, “Can WhatsApp be hacked on iPhone?” can skip the cloning technique as it only targets Android smartphones.
Since the Android system doesn’t restrict the installation of third-party applications, hackers create fake apps visually identical to the originals, including WhatsApp. These duplicates display the same conversations and contacts previously stored, but with a catch — all your data is now being copied to an external server controlled by hackers.
To protect your sensitive information, avoid downloading third-party apps from unofficial stores.
In 2025, WhatsApp introduced a web version, offering users a desktop experience. You simply scan the QR code on the official website – that’s all it takes to start messaging from the comfort of your computer.
Unfortunately, third parties can also exploit this feature for hacking into WhatsApp. If you use someone else’s computer to log into the messenger and forget to end your session, the device’s owner can easily access your conversations later.
Additionally, if someone gets hold of your phone when you’re not around, they can sync it with a PC without your permission. Luckily, you can easily spot unauthorized access to your WhatsApp and take measures to protect your messages. Here’s how:
- Open WhatsApp.
- Tap Settings.
- Choose the Linked Devices option.
- Disconnect the devices you don’t recognize.
While it might not fit the classic definition of WhatsApp hacks, gaining physical access to a device can be effective.
If someone decides to read your conversations, they don’t necessarily need to hold your phone for a long time. WhatsApp’s export feature allows them to send your chat history to any location. Hackers simply select a specific chat, navigate to the settings, and choose the “Export” option. WhatsApp then compresses your messages into a ZIP file that can be sent to another messenger, their email, or even cloud storage.
Unfortunately, you can’t disable this feature in your settings. However, depending on your operating system, you can set up two-factor authentication or a Face ID screen lock.
Mobile keyloggers record all keystrokes made on a target device, including passwords, search queries, and pin codes. If hackers have successfully placed one on your phone or PC, your WhatsApp conversations may already be compromised.
If you’re wondering, “Can someone hack my WhatsApp without my phone using a keylogger?” the answer is no. Most keyloggers require one-time physical access for installation. However, that doesn’t mean they are less dangerous than other hidden spyware. We’ve discovered that some advanced keyloggers (listed below) can even capture your device’s screen, giving hackers a complete picture of your activity.
|Keylogger||Works On||Can Capture Screenshots||Hidden from You?|
|Eyezy||iOS 7.0+ Android 4.0+||Yes||Yes|
|mSpy||iOS 7.0+ Android 4.0+||Yes||Yes|
|ClevGuard||All iOS devices Android 6.0+||Yes||Yes|
|FamiGuard||iOS 9.0+ Android 4.0+||Yes||Yes|
|FlexiSpy||iOS 6.0+ Android 4.0+||Yes||Yes|
Although security experts regularly introduce software patches, it’s unlikely that the advanced WhatsApp hacks will disappear anytime soon. Therefore, your knowledge and vigilance remain your best defenses against cyberthreats targeting sensitive data you share via WhatsApp.