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Telegram’s People Nearby feature can give hackers your exact location

Yeah, maybe turn this feature off.

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Image: Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Telegram is a robust messaging app, but one of its features can give hackers way more information than intended.

Called People Nearby, the feature (turned off by default) lets you see a map of your area that shows other nearby Telegram users. It’s not very accurate and is more of a “general area” thing, but software engineer and researcher, Ahmed Hassan, has found that it can be used by hackers to get exact locations.

Essentially, it works like this: A hacker dupes their location to create a triangle using three points. This can be done by rooting their device, spoofing hardware, or simply walking around to get three data points. Then, that triangulation allows for a more accurate location of a user.

Hassan puts it into perspective by saying, “If you enable the feature of making yourself visible on the map, you’re publishing your home address online.”

Considering that Telegram touts itself as a privacy-focused app, this feature existing at all seems a bit off.

If you have this feature turned on, and want to turn it off, do the following. Head to Settings in the side menu, select Contacts, and choose Stop Showing Me on the Find People Nearby option.

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