A new attack has been developed and it is now threatening all Whatsapp users. Facebook, the owner company of the chatting and messaging app just warned its users by using certain features as it may lead to severe data loss and information hacks. Check out all the details in this post and learn how to protect your Whatsapp and your whole smartphone from this malicious attack.
What is malware & spyware?
Just like all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs, malware is the general term that is used to describe all different types of malicious software or "viruses" that are used to attack computers and mobiles. These malware variations include spyware as a specific type of software attacks.
As for the term "spyware", it is the type of malicious software that, as the name indicates, is designed to spy on your device. In the case of a smartphone, the spyware is able to not only view and record your internet activities but also pull your passwords to the most important accounts such as your bank account; form there, the rest is history!
How hackers are attacking Whatsapp users?
Due to a huge security bug, hackers were able to add a malicious code and embed it into MP4 videos that get sent on Whatsapp. Once the user plays this video, the code of the spyware runs and starts off by cutting the device off of the internet. After that, the hacker is able to control the users' devices entirely, using any apps, and getting any passwords.
As the attack took its first steps in India affecting over 100 Whatsapp users earlier this month, Facebook issued a warning for the messaging application users to take necessary precautions to protect their privacy. As can be expected, the first thing experts recommended was to "not open or play any videos that you receive from an unknown source". However, there were more protective measures that users can take to avoid this vicious attack. Keep reading this post to find out how to protect your smartphone.
Is it the Pegasus spyware?
Some speculations are relating this spyware attack to the Pegasus spyware due to the similarities between the two. Pegasus was used to infiltrate the Whatsapp users' devices through the video call feature only a month ago before this current spyware. So, we can see the resemblance here. However, Pegasus was only able to attack Whatsapp users who have iPhones as it was only installed on devices running iOS whereas this new spyware is attacking all versions of iOS as well as Android phones. Does this mean that it is a different malware or a new upgraded version of Pegasus?
No matter what the answer to these questions might be, the most important thing to do at the moment is to take the necessary steps to protect your smartphone and your data. Check out Facebook recommendations for security in the next section.
How to protect your smartphone from the malware on Whatsapp videos?
As mentioned before, Facebook's primary recommendations told users to avoid videos on Whatsapp from unknown numbers. Here are a few additional steps to further ensure your security until this malicious attack passes.
- Do not open or play any videos from any source even if you know the number. In some cases the spyware, allegedly, used real people's phone numbers to perform this attack. When you think about it, if one device is compromised, the spyware can use this person's phone to send the video to the contacts on this device for example.
- Turn off the video reception from your Whatsapp settings. Go to Whatsapp settings, choose the option called "Data and storage usage". Choose "No media" for all three options that you'll find on this screen. Those options runs your downloads when your smartphone is connected to the internet through data, Wifi, and roaming. This way, you will stop downloading any videos sent to your device via Whatsapp.
- Last but not least, Facebook is urging users to upgrade Whatsapp to have the version of the app that is able to keep this attack off of your device.