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Telegram’s ‘People Nearby’ feature, if enabled, may not be as secure as people believe it to be

Telegram is considered as one of the most secure and private apps that facilitates global communication amongst people. Its popular ‘People Nearby’ feature is also used by many users as it helps them be alerted if their friends are in the vicinity or somewhere close to them. Not only for friends, but users can see the display pictures and names of people who are near them through this feature, with information about their distance to let the users know how far away they are or how close they may be. Ideally, this lets the users find their friends or like-minded groups near them and have conversations with them.

While people may enable the People Nearby feature to let their friends find them, they may not realize that this feature will also reveal their locations to people who are not their friends!

A recent report also suggests the same that this feature can be a major privacy threat for the people whose exact locations can be traced through the triangulation method.

Imagine, a scammer or a criminal is aiming to target a user. This feature will give them the information about that user and at what distance they are. Then, the criminal or scammer may take a walking detour or may use an app like Fake GPS Location within 7 miles, and through this, they can get three coordinates of the victim’s likely location.

Then, the adversary may add these three coordinates in the Google Earth Pro app and get three locations which they can circle down. The radius of each circle would match one of the distances that they noted before, and the intersection of the three circles will help them find the exact location of that user.

Now, this is a serious privacy risk and from an app that claims to be extremely secure, this seems to be a major miss-out. But hopefully, Telegram will look into this issue and make necessary amends if possible, to protect its users’ privacy and location.

One thing to remember here is that users can choose to enable or disable this feature. Many people believe that if someone enables the feature, they are probably already aware that their location can be traced to some extent. So, Telegram can easily say that it is the users’ informed choice. But the app should still make it more transparent for the users who probably do not understand the serious implications this feature can have if they are choosing to enable it.


Read next: Study Highlights Which Countries Have Highest Surveillance Via CCTV Footage Cameras

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