Users beware: Those WhatsApp chats you thought you had deleted aren’t actually deleted

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It has been revealed that if you own an iOS device, parts of your Whatsapp conversations may not have been deleted from your phone, a security researcher has said.

Jonathan Zdziaraki a researcher who specialises in the Apple operating system said in a blog “forensic trace of all chats is left on the device even when the chats have been deleted, cleared, or archived.”

He went on to say that deleted Whatsapp chats could be recovered using forensic tools as the information had not been overwritten on your device.

Zdziarski says “Simply preserving deleted data on a secure device is not usually a significant issue, but when that data comes off the device as freely as Whatsapp’s database does; it poses a rather serious risk to privacy.”

As part of his research, the Zdziarski analysed SQLite records stored on a test phone database once messages had thought to be deleted.

He found that the library is not automatically overwritten and therefore data files fail to be deleted.

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The problem occurs because the database from the iPhone gets copied to iCloud.

Although iCloud data is still encrypted, it does not offer the same level of protection as the end-to-end encryption used by Whatsapp. Therefore the backups in iCloud are independent of those in Whatsapp.

Zdziarski said that the information can’t be accessed by Whatsapp or any third party but are stored locally on the device and the only way to be sure that everything is deleted is to uninstall the app.

However, he said that “law enforcement can potentially issue a warrant with Apple to obtain your deleted Whatsapp chat logs, which may include deleted messages.”

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