- Vulnerability in Facebook's WhatsApp notification app has allowed attackers to distribute mobile tracking software over a phone call.
- While WhatsApp users can not check if their device has been affected, there are some red flags that can detect a point that may indicate a third-party mobile device.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
Vulnerability in Facebook's WhatsApp notification app has allowed attackers to distribute tracking software for Android phones and iPhones with a phone call.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an absolute way to check if your device has been affected by tracking software. However, there are certain signs that users can search for and it can be helpful to notice if a mobile device is being manipulated knowingly by a third party.
"One of them is trying to look at changes in your mobile device," said Domingo Gora, a mobile security expert for Symantec's antivirus software. "If the battery usage seems completely different than just recently, or if the device is running hot because it may be sending and receiving many data, there may be signs that the device is in danger."
Updating the WhatsApp app on your smartphone to the latest version and keeping your mobile operating system up to date are critical first steps if you think your device might be compromised.
WhatsApp discovered this vulnerability this month and immediately fixed the issue. But the company did not say how many users 1.5 billion users are evaluated to be affected. When asked whether the WhatsApp users can determine whether their device was affected or not, the company spokesperson released the following response:
"Given the limited information we collect, it is hard for us to say for sure the impact on specific users, and we will work with human rights organizations with expertise that investigates the work of private cyber players, out of a great deal of caution and we encourage everyone to update whatsApp, Their mobile operating system is up to date. "
The malware was developed by the NSO group, according to Financial Times, a controversial security company that develops a product called Pegasus, which can operate a camera and microphone on the device and scrub the emails. The company markets its products to governments and intelligence agencies.
Because the type of malware used for this attack is usually very expensive and is usually sold to governments and intelligence agencies, the average person has no reason to worry, says Gai Rosenberg, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Labs.
"It's government malware that costs millions of dollars," he said. "Unless you are the target of any government, then you really have nothing to worry about, your average cyber criminal does not do it."
There is no evidence that this was a large-scale attack, but NSO's software group has previously encountered attempts to compromise active affiliate devices. In 2016, for example, a prominent activist of human rights, Ahmed Mansour, received text messages with links that were installed surveillance software from the NSO group on his phone.
Tools like Apple's Time Screen feature can make it easier to track the applications that are most frequently used on your phone, which Guerra says can be an important tactic for detecting potentially malicious behavior if your device is being affected by an attack.
But a more reliable way to identify outside manipulation can be to look at the applications they eat the most battery life and data. This is because applications running in the background may not show up in apps like & # 39; screen time & # 39 ;, says Guerra. Tracking the normal use of data can be particularly critical, as spike in data transfers can be a sign that something is wrong.
Guerra regularly checks values such as data and battery usage, making it easier to detect when something seems unusual. It also suggests removing the applications you do not use regularly to limit the number of programs that may collect your data. Regular backup of your device is also important to make it as smooth as possible to switch to a new phone in case your phone is compromised.
"[Our smartphones] Can be the perfect spies tool, "said Gora," there are old cameras and front, there are microphones, there is GPS so that your location, your diary. . . But these data are not good for anyone trying to spy on you if it stays on your device. So what device is recording or collecting, it should be transmitted back into effect. "
Get WhatsApp one every morning with all our latest news: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: