You Can Read Deleted WhatsApp Chats

Instant Messaging Apps for mobile phones have become very popular over the past couple of years.

They now are even a more popular form of communication than SMS, especially WhatsApp which is available not only on smartphones but some feature phones too.

But, what happens should you accidentally delete an important WhatsApp chat?

Or should your phone get damaged and you require some of your old chats?

By default, on most phones, WhatsApp backs up your chats on your phone in an encrypted format. These backups happen automatically in the background although you can initiate a WhatsApp backup manually.

This automatic backup takes place at 4am everyday and stores the backup automatically on the microSD for Android phones (what we tested with).

Thus, should you delete a WhatsApp chat by mistake, all it takes to restore all your chats is to uninstall and re-install your WhatsApp, select the 'Restore' prompt once it comes up as an option during installation and your WhatsApp chats will be restored.

This however only restores the most recent backup and a similar procedure is available for iPhone, Older Blackerry's and BlackBerry 10s, Windows Phone and any phone running Nokia's S60 Symbian Operating System.

To restore older chats (Note: WhatsAp only backs up chats up to 7 days old), all you have to do on your Android phone (using a File Manager on the phone or something like Windows Explorer when you connect your phone to your PC via USB cable) is to do the following:

  1. If you don't want to lose you current chats, back them up manually by going to **Settings > Chat Settings > Backup cnversations

  2. Once backed up, search on your Android device's sdCard (or Android device if no sdCard) for a file named msgstore.db.crypt or one named msgstore.db.crypt5. Rename this file to anything you can remember later as to avoid confusing it with the files you are about to restore.

  3. Uninstall WhatsApp

  4. Go to WhatsApp folder and find the file you want to restore, they are usually named in the following convention msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt (where YYYY is the Year, MM the Month and DD the Day).

  5. Now rename this file, in the same folder (don't move it) to msgstore.db.crypt.

  6. Install WhatsApp

  7. When prompted to restore select it. Voila! Past 7 daysof WhatsApp chats (even the ones you deleted) re-appear in your WhatsApp.

Here's The Problem

Now, after doing all this it is natural to assume (at least I did) that you can only restore WhatsApp chats even deleted ones only to the device they were created on or at very least to the mobile number thy were created by.

Shock! Horror!

You don't even need the specific phone to restore the .crypt files but even worse, you don't even need WhatsApp at all.

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This presents a potential security risk as anyone who can get ahold of your WhatsApp .crypt files can restore them by decrytping them using many of the free available tools online and web browser to read the messages and all media associated with them.

Given how easily mobile devices get lost or stolen, perhaps one should consider not using WhatsApp for sending critical information , e.g. Credit Card details to a loved one to make purchases, etc.

The process is different on other phones (iPhone, BlackBerry etc.) but the risk is still the same.

Cover Image Credit: Sam Azgor

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