Hackers install surveillance malware on WhatsApp installed Smartphones

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Facebook-owned WhatsApp is back in news, but for all wrong reasons. The popular messaging platform is said to be allowing hackers to install surveillance software on phones and other devices triggering a major vulnerability threat among millions using the popular messaging platform.

According to a report from Financial Times(FT), the threat was actually developed by a security firm from Israel named NSO Group. The motive behind the launch of such attack was to check the defense-line of skills of the popular phone and video sharing app which is reported to have more than 1.5 billion users.

WhatsApp has already issued a fix to this vulnerability on Friday and is urging its global users to update their apps as a precautionary measure.

A news article published on FT on Saturday suggests that hackers are using sophisticated tools to induce spying software on to phones loaded with WhatsApp software. The attack launch was being done through voice calling feature of Whatsapp where a hacker rings a device of the victim and even if they won’t pick up the call, they manage to plant the surveillance software on the victim’s phone.

When the FT team of analysts identified this flaw, a lead was initiated to the NSO group which launched a simulated cyber attack on the messaging app. And to their surprise, it worked offering them success in installing surveillance software on the mobile phone.

In a news briefing given to BBC, WhatsApp admitted that the flaw was brought to its notice at the end of last month and a fix was issued on Friday last week.

Cybersecurity Insiders has detected that the flaw could be marked as a hallmark that works with nations delivering spyware that can take over the role of the mobile phone operating system.

Note 1– The NSO Group of Israel which got a news tip-off from BBC is alleged to be a cyber arms dealer and is very popular on the dark web. Pegasus software which is a kind of spying malware is one of the company developed product that allows data capture of a victimized phone via a microphone and camera and also manages to gather location data.

Note 2- the Israeli government has already received ‘n’ number of complaints from various companies across the globe urging the defense ministry to cancel the license issued to the NSO Group to export its services and products.