4 ways your whatsapp can be compromised
1. Remote Code Execution via GIF
In October 2019, security researcher Awakened revealed a vulnerability in WhatsApp that let hackers take control of the app using a GIF image. The hack works by taking advantage of the way that WhatsApp processes images when the user opens the Gallery view to send a media file.
When this happens, the app parses the GIF in order to show a preview of the file. GIF files are special because they have multiple encoded frames. This means that code can be hidden within the image.
If a hacker were to send a malicious GIF to a user, they could compromise the user’s entire chat history. The hackers would be able to see who the user had been messaging and what they had been saying. They could also see users’ files, photos, and videos sent through WhatsApp.
The vulnerability affected versions of WhatsApp up to 2.19.230 on Android 8.1 and 9. Fortunately, Awakened disclosed the vulnerability responsibly and Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has been able to patch the issue. To keep yourself safe from this problem, you should update WhatsApp to version 2.19.244 or above.
2. The Pegasus Voice Call Attack
Another WhatsApp vulnerability discovered in early 2019 was the Pegasus voice call hack. This scary attack allowed hackers to access a device simply by placing a WhatsApp voice call to their target. Even if the target didn’t answer the call, the attack could still be effective. And the target may not even be aware that malware has been installed on their device.
This worked through a method known as buffer overflow. This is where an attack deliberately puts too much code into a small buffer so that it “overflows” and writes code into a location it shouldn’t be able to access. When the hacker can run code in a location that should be secure, they can take malicious actions.
In the case of this attack, it installed an older and well-known piece of spyware called Pegasus. This allowed hackers to collect data on phone calls, messages, photos, and video. It even let them activate devices’ cameras and microphones to take recordings.
This vulnerability applied to Android, iOS, Windows 10 Mobile, and Tizen devices. It was used by the Israeli firm NSO Group which has been accused of spying on Amnesty International staff and other human rights activists. After news of the hack broke, WhatsApp was updated to protect it from this attack.
If you are running WhatsApp version 2.19.134 or earlier on Android or version 2.19.51 or earlier on iOS, then you need to update your app immediately.
3. Socially Engineered Attacks
Another way that WhatsApp is vulnerable is through socially engineered attacks.These exploit human psychology to steal information or spread misinformation. This allowed people to misuse the quote feature in group chat and to alter the text of another person’s reply. Essentially, it allows hackers to plant fake statements that appear to be from other legitimate users.
4. Media File Jacking
A vulnerability which affects both WhatsApp and Telegram is media file jacking. This attack takes advantage of the way that apps receive media files like photos or videos and write those files to a device’s external storage. more