If you use WhatsApp regularly, you’re one of 1.5 billion monthly users who use the messaging app to contact friends, family and colleagues. One of 1.5 billion users who could be at risk from a sophisticated security breach that enables hackers to take over your handset, just by calling it.
How does the WhatsApp hack work?
The WhatsApp hack is unlike any cyber attack ever witnessed. In order to hack a device, criminals usually need to install malicious software, which they usually do by getting unsuspecting users to click on a link or open an attachment that releases the malware and offers them a way in.
The scary thing about the WhatsApp breach is that criminals can access a device just by calling it, and regardless of whether the call is answered or not.
Hackers have done this by exploiting a vulnerability in the app, that allows them to install spyware through an infected call. This spyware can then pick its way through calls, texts and other data, and even activate the phone’s camera and microphone.
And it seems no-one who uses the app is safe, as it can affect all types of device that have WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business installed.
Have you been targeted by the WhatsApp hack?
The Financial Times has reported that an Israeli cyber intelligence company, NSO Group, has developed the spyware that, aside from not even having to be answered, actually hides itself from call logs.
It’s unclear how many people in the UK have been affected, but it’s believed that lawyers working in sensitive industries are the main target. If you’ve not had any WhatsApp voice calls or had calls from unknown numbers cut off, then you probably haven’t been targeted.
How to protect against the WhatsApp hack
As with any cyber attacks, one of the best ways to protect against a breach – and the only way to protect against a breach in this case – is to make sure all of your apps, operating systems and other software are up to date.
Facebook, who own WhatsApp, implemented a server-side change to help protect users and pushed out updates for the various smartphone WhatsApp versions on Monday, and is advising all users to update manually through the App Store on Apple devices, Google Play or similar on Android, or the Microsoft Store on Windows.
Alternatively, uninstalling WhatsApp from your phone will protect you from the attack.
Use a Conference Call to protect against the WhatsApp hack
If you do uninstall WhatsApp, or if you just want a safe and reliable way to conduct business calls, our conference call service works on mobile or landline devices, and can’t be targeted by cyber criminals – why not give it a try?