WhatsApp users rarely update their application until the push comes to shove and we know this fact since we have all been there. However, this time around things might be a little severe, and we recommend that you update WhatsApp on your phone with utmost priority. Well, Why? Because your phone might become a target for hackers, who have managed to find a loophole in WhatsApp. These hackers are spreading spyware on Android and iOS devices around the globe using WhatsApp call, and this spyware might compromise your phone as it has been rumoured to be covered with malicious intent.
New Spyware Allegedly Developed by NSO
This new spyware is being spread by means of a WhatsApp call, which by the way you might not even receive, but if used, could then be the reason for your phone's compromise. The WhatsApp call could render all your data, including your call logs, your emails, your messages, photos etc, vulnerable to an Israeli cyber intelligence company, NSO. The report comes from Financial Times which has noted that this code developed by NSO can be transmitted to your device with the means of a WhatsApp call even if you don't answer it. The WhatsApp call also disappears from the WhatsApp call logs. This means that there is no way of knowing if you were a target for these hacks or not.
There has also been a list of WhatsApp versions which have been vulnerable to these attacks and these include WhatsApp for Android v2.19.134 and before, WhatsApp Business for Android v2.19.44 and before, WhatsApp for iOS v2.19.51 and before, WhatsApp Business for iOS v2.19.51 and before, WhatsApp for Windows Phone v2.18.348 and before, and WhatsApp for Tizen v2.18.15 and before.
WhatsApp Issues Official Statement on Hacks
WhatsApp came across the bug earlier this month and then started rolling out the update to secure the users on Friday along with a security patch on Monday. WhatsApp in its statement said, "This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems." The company further added, "We have briefed a number of human rights organisations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society."
Currently, WhatsApp is on the task of assessing and investigating how many users were affected by this hack, and at the same time, the Facebook-owned social messaging app is urging the users to update their application as soon as possible. The social media giant has also issued a Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) notice to cybersecurity experts informing them about this new vulnerability. Moreover, WhatsApp has alerted the US Justice Department.
Why NSO Could be Behind the WhatsApp Hacks
Notably, Pegasus is a program that can turn on a phone's camera and microphone, go through images and messages and collect location data. The program was developed to target a UK-based lawyer who had helped a group of Mexican journalist, government critics and a man of Saudi Arabian descent living in Canada sue NSO in the past because it was responsible for the abuse of its software by its clients, which includes governments and intelligence agencies.
NSO has, however, rejected these claims saying that it has not taken such a step. "NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organisation, including this individual [the UK lawyer]," NSO said in a statement to the publication.