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What’s up with WhatsApp?

June 11, 2019 | News, Security

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A cybersecurity breach in Facebook’s WhatsApp app last month left users vulnerable to spyware attacks via voice calls. As a result, an undetermined number of the 1.5 billion users of the messaging app may have had malicious spyware installed on their devices.

Here’s what happened, and what you can do to protect yourself.

What happened?

A government-grade intelligence collection tool was employed to target WhatsApp users via voice calls. The spyware had the ability to seize control of affected smartphones and to access private information stored on the device.

The spyware utilized in the attack was allegedly created by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber surveillance company that developed this technology for the express purpose of allowing government agencies to infiltrate terrorist groups and fight crime.

The WhatsApp breach was made possible because of a loophole in the app’s code that allowed hackers to transmit spyware onto smartphones by calling targets through the app. The malicious code could be injected into the device whether the user picked up the call or not.

Who was affected?

The security vulnerability affects both iPhone and Android devices, but not every version of WhatsApp. To check if the version you have on your phone was one of those impacted by the breach, check out Facebook’s official advisory confirming the vulnerability and outlining which versions were affected.

What do I need to do now?

Since the breach was discovered, WhatsApp engineers have been working hard to close the app’s security vulnerability. The company has started installing a fix to servers and to private customers. It has also created an updated, safer version of the app and has urged all users to deploy onto their devices as soon as possible.

Here’s a quick guide for updating your WhatsApp

For iPhone users: Open the App Store, choose updates, select WhatsApp and then click Update.

For Android users: Open the Play Store, click the three lines in the upper left-hand corner, choose My Apps & Games, select WhatsApp and then hit Update.

If you haven’t yet updated your device, do it now. It only takes a few seconds to make sure your WhatsApp is operating at its safest level.

Let’s be careful out there!


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