WhatsApp hack raises global fears

Nov 6, 2019 by

Several countries used the spying software to target lawyers, human rights activists, journalists and political opponentsThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is WhatsApp_Logo_6-1120x680.png

In the middle of October this year, the world’s biggest messaging platform, WhatsApp, started sending out alerts to select users advising them that their security had been compromised. The messages were sent after security researchers found that an Israeli company had been supplying spying software that specifically targeted WhatsApp users.

Once the targeted device is hacked through WhatsApp, it makes all the data on the phone available to the spies. Everything on the phone, be it email or other messaging platforms or photographs and documents, can then be easily accessed by the spy agency using the Israeli spyware. For WhatsApp, which features end-to-end encryption, the hack was a devastating blow to the security of its users.

In an uncharacteristic opinion piece in The Washington Post published last week, Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, wrote about this massive attack on the platform.

“In May, WhatsApp announced that we had detected and blocked a new kind of cyberattack involving a vulnerability in our video-calling feature. A user would receive what appeared to be a video call, but this was not a normal call. After the phone rang, the attacker secretly transmitted malicious code in an effort to infect the victim’s phone with spyware. The person did not even have to answer the call,” Cathcart wrote.

The article was released as soon as WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, filed a complaint against the Israeli company, NSO Group, in a US federal court. The petition, which has been seen by Asia Times, reveals the extent to which the spyware supplied by NSO Group has been used globally. Interestingly, the spying software’s code has special clauses that limit its ability to target American and Israeli citizens, according to the petition filed in the US federal court.

The shock waves being felt across the world continue to intensify as more names of people who were targeted are revealed.

Source: Asia Times | Israeli spyware: WhatsApp hack raises global fears | Article

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