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PSA: Update Whatsapp now to protect against spyware installation on your phone

By Cookie Monster - on 15 May 2019, 7:00am

PSA: Update Whatsapp now to protect against spyware installation on your phone

WhatsApp is urging all users to update the app immediately to guard against a potential spyware exploit.

According to security researchers who spoke to The Financial Times, a vulnerability in WhatsApp is being exploited by a spyware that can installed itself onto Android and iOS phones without trace and without the user accepting the call. WhatsApp confirmed the matter and issued the following statement:

“WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices,” said WhatsApp in a statement.

The spyware is reportedly developed by Israel's secretive NSO group. Once installed, the spyware will turn on the phone's camera and mic, read emails and messages, and collect the user's location data. The most recent incident happened on Sunday when a U.K-based human rights lawyer was attacked by NSO's flagship Pegasus program. 

While WhatsApp has blocked the attack, it is still investigating the matter. It is also unable to estimate the number of devices successfully targeted by the exploit. 

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

NSO sells the Pegasus program to government and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime. However, there are reports that the Pegasus program is used by as many as 45 countries to prosecute dissidents, journalists and other innocent civilians. 

Source: The Financial Times via The Verge

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