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WhatsApp hack: Have I been affected and what should I do? | Technology



Users are prompted to update their WhatsApp smartphone applications immediately due to a security error that allows hackers to take over the phone just by calling it, regardless of whether you answer.

What happened?

A vulnerability in the popular Facebook-owned messaging service has been discovered which allowed hackers to install spyware through an infected WhatsApp voice call.

The spyware can step through conversations, texts and other data, activate the phone's camera and microphone, and perform other malicious activities.

Which phones affect it?

  Any phone running either the WhatsApp or the WhatsApp Business app may be affected.



Any phone running either the WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business app can be affected. Photo: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

All brands of phones with WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business installed are affected, including Apple's iPhone (iOS), Android phones, Windows phones and Tizen devices, according to Facebook. WhatsApp is used by 1.5 billion people globally.

Who's behind the attack?

According to the Financial Times, Israeli chat business developed the NSO Group spyware. The users didn't even have to accept the call, and it was often hidden from logs, wrote the paper.

Has it affected me?

The number of people who are spied on is not yet known. A few targets, including a British-based human rights lawyer and an Amnesty International researcher, have been identified.

If you haven't received any WhatsApp voice calls or dropped calls from unknown parties, you probably haven't been targeted. However, if you happen to be a lawyer or work in sensitive industries and use WhatsApp, even for personal correspondence, you should be particularly vigilant.

What do I have to do to protect myself?

Facebook implemented a server-side change to protect users and elaborate updates for the various smart types of WhatsApp versions on Monday.

Users are strongly advised to check for updates manually via the Apple App Store on an iPhone, Google Play or the like on an Android device, Microsoft Store on Windows phones, and Galaxy App Store on Tizen devices.

If you fail to install WhatsApp from your phone, you will protect yourself from the attack.

How do I tell if I use the latest version?

  WhatsApp Android version information.



WhatsApp Android version information. Photo: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

WhatsApp lists the latest version of its Android app on the site. You can find the version of the app installed on your Android phone by long pressing the WhatsApp icon and selecting App info, or finding the list of apps in your phone's settings.

However, you only need to install all relevant app updates. from the phone's built-in app store is the best way to ensure you are using the latest signed and verified version of the app.

What about my phone?

Keeping your apps up to date is essential to protecting yourself

You should always install the latest version iOS or Android and should think twice before using a phone that is no longer supported by software updates.

Most iPhones receive over five years of software support. Android devices rely on the manufacturer, with Google's Pixel smartphones as the gold standard, and receive at least three years of monthly security updates and Android version updates.

Why is software support so important?

Security issues are being discovered all the time and each is added to a hacker's armory, and they are often combined in creative ways of acquiring devices and stealing data.

Although most security holes are solved by software vendors, you are only protected if you actually receive the software solution. For most users, there is nothing you can do to solve the problem yourself, which means you are completely dependent on the software support you receive from the developer or device manufacturer.

The older your software, the more vulnerable it affects and the greater your risk from cyber criminals.

What about my computer?

  Windows update on a Windows 10 PC.



Windows update on a Windows 10 PC. Photo: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

It's just as important to keep your desktop, computer, or tablet up-to-date. The software supports lifecycles for computers are usually far longer than smartphones.

While constant Windows or Mac OS updates may be annoying, they are also critical to your security. Like performing regular maintenance on your car to keep it safe on the road, your computer, phone or other Internet connected devices need the same care to stay safe day by day.


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