Another day, another hack. But even the most jaded tech watchers are paying attention to the latest attack as it involves WhatsApp, potentially affecting 1.5 billion users around the world, several million of them in South Africa.
The outfit behind the hack, allegedly an Israeli cyber-surveillance company linked to the Saudi government, succeeded in using the WhatsApp calling feature in the app to sneak spyware onto phones. It’s then able to sift through calls records, texts and other data. According to a report in The Guardian, the spyware is even able to activate the phone’s camera and microphone, delete calls from logs and perform other malicious activities.
While it appears only a small number of activists were targeted, WhatsApp parent company Facebook has rushed out an update to the app for all platforms and is urging users to update to the latest version.
What phones are affected?
According to a list released by Facebook, all popular makes of phone with WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business installed are potentially vulnerable. These include devices running Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Samsung’s Tizen and Windows Phone.
How to tell if you’re a victim
First try to recall whether you’ve received any WhatsApp voice calls or dropped calls from unknown parties.
If so, Symantec mobile security expert Domingo Guerra, speaking to Business Insider, said users should look out for any recent, sudden changes in their mobile devices.
These include checking if battery usage has changed significantly without a change in how they use your phones, checking if their devices are running hotter than usual and whether their data usage has spiked.
What to do?
Facebook has pushed out updates across all mobile platforms that use WhatsApp. It has urged users to check for an update in their phone’s app store and install it immediately. Users should also keep their phone’s operating system up to date. – GeekWire.co.za