However, a new report showed that Telegram may not be as safe as you think it is, especially if you’ve been using ‘People Nearby’ feature that could open opportunities for hackers.
Why Telegram’s ‘People Nearby’ is not a safe feature
In almost all messaging and social media apps in the world, tracking GPS or user location is no longer a unique feature.
Even giant apps like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram use GPS to know their user’s specific location.
Telegram wasn’t also new to this. In fact, it has a feature called ‘People Nearby’ that opens the user’s GPS, in order to connect with people that are using the same app in the nearby location.
Again, a lot of apps also use this feature, mostly on dating apps.
However, here’s a bad news for all people who uses Telegram’s ‘People Nearby’ feature: you must now disable it.
‘People Nearby’ opens your location to hackers
‘People Nearby’ feature is not automatically set in each Telegram user. If users seek to use the feature, he just needs to enable it from the app’s settings.
However, if you ask Independent researcher Ahmed Hassan, using GPS on Telegram may not be the best idea to do.
On January 1, Hassan posted a blog in his website telling the public to stop enabling Telegram’s People Nearby feature in Android devices—or some iOS smartphones.
This was after he found out that anyone can easily locate someone’s exact residence using the feature.
In a video that he didn’t share online, Hassan explains how easy it is to manipulate its system.
By only using an Android device and a security software, the researcher pinned down three unknown locations in the map, according to People Nearby software.
Upon measuring the distance between the three pinned places, he was able to get the exact location of someone, using the app.
“Most users don’t understand they are sharing their location, and perhaps their home address,” Hassan wrote in an email. “If a female used that feature to chat with a local group, she can be stalked by unwanted users.”
In much worse scenario, Hassan also noted that this location hack may be use by ‘amateur’ hackers, which only needs little amount of knowledge in technology.
What Telegram says
As per Hassan’s blog post, he said that he already notified Telegram for the said security risk. He mentioned that this method can increase victims of fake investments, stolen personal data, and others.
Hassan even claimed that Line app also faced the same security issue with GPS feature, yet gets fixed right away—after he reported it and received $1,000.
Unfortunately, Telegram app does responded on the post, but said that their bug bounty program does not cover those type of security issues.
Due to this reaction, Hassan chose to post the harm of using the location feature, and warn everyone to never ever use it again—until Telegram does something.