iPhone, Android users face security risk as Israeli spyware hits WhatsApp

Whatsapp logo [photo: whatsapp.com]
Whatsapp logo [photo: whatsapp.com]

A spyware traced to an Israeli intelligence firm has injected vulnerabilities into WhatsApp’s phone call function on iPhone and Android devices.

Attackers used the malicious agent to transmit private user data by calling the user and infecting the call whether or not the call was picked-up, according to the Financial Times which broke the news on Monday night.

Oftentimes, the spyware would erase incoming calls register, making it more difficult for users to detect.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook and used by more than 1.5 billion people, has advised users to immediately upgrade to its latest version which contains a new patch that fixed the vulnerability. An additional update was published on Monday.

The company first detected the problem last week and quickly addressed it with its internal infrastructure. It also notified the United States Department of Justice of the breach, Financial Times reported.

As part of urgent measures to contain the breach and prevent further theft of user data, a ‘CVE’ advisory was also released for cybersecurity experts on Monday, informing them about the devices that were worse hit.

WhatsApp did not immediately disclose the extent of damage already caused by the spyware.

“The attack has all the hallmarks of a private company reportedly that works with governments to deliver spyware that takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” WhatsApp said in a statement. “We have briefed a number of human rights organisations to share the information we can and to work with them to notify civil society.”

Advertisement

SGF Campaign AD

The Israeli-based NSO, which Financial Times identified as responsible for the attach, denied the allegations in a statement on Monday, saying it was investigating the matter.

“NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organisation, including this individual,” it said to the Financial Times. The organisation often limits sales of its spyware, Pegasus, to state intelligence agencies.

The spyware’s capabilities are widely deemed virulent by experts. It could extract all of the data already on any targeted device, including text messages, contacts, GPS location, email, browser history.

WhatsApp has been widely popular across the world for its easy-to-use interface and and end-to-end encryption. Journalists, activists and dissidents have become comfortable with the application’s communication guarantees, and WhatsApp said the Israeli spyware did not affect the encryption functionality.

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: This space is available for a Text_Ad.. Call Willie on +2347088095401 for more information


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.