A dangerous security vulnerability has been found and exploited in WhatsApp. Here is what you need to know.
A security hole in the WhatsApp messaging app enables hackers to infect Google Android and Apple iPhone smartphones with malware. The vulnerability was discovered after hackers exploited it to install spyware on the phones of several lawyers and human rights activists. The spyware took over the functions of their devices’ operating system software.
A Dangerous Vulnerability
Security experts are calling the vulnerability in WhatsApp “very scary” — and for good reason. It allows cybercriminals to install malware through the app’s phone call feature. Worse yet, the targeted individuals do not even need to answer the phone to become infected. Plus, the malicious calls often disappear from the devices’ call logs.
WhatsApp has pushed out a patch to fix the vulnerability but is urging users to make sure it was installed on their phones. If you have an Android device, follow these steps:
- Open the Play Store.
- On the menu, tap “My apps & games”.
- Find and select “WhatsApp Messenger” in the list of installed apps.
- Tap “Read more” and scroll to the bottom.
- Under “App info”, make sure the version listed is 2.19.134.
If you have an iPhone, do the following:
- Open the App Store.
- Select the “Updates” tab.
- Scroll until you see WhatsApp under either “Pending” or “Updated recently”.
- Tap “More”.
- Make sure the version listed is 2.19.51.
If your device is running a version earlier than 2.19.134 (Android) or 2.19.51 (iPhone), you should update WhatsApp.
Smartphones Are as Vulnerable as Computers
The WhatsApp’s vulnerability and its exploitation highlight the fact that smartphones have become as unsecure and vulnerable as computers, according to security experts. For that reason, it is important to regularly update the apps and operating system software on your smartphone. Taking advantage of automatic updates makes this task effortless. If an app does not have an automatic update feature, you will need to regularly check for updates and manually install them.
Besides updating, it is a good idea to run security software. It can help detect known malware that gets unknowingly installed. We can recommend which security software to use as well as provide additional information on how to secure your smartphone.