Quoting the incident as "highly sophisticated attacks", WhatsApp stated that it informed the US law enforcement agencies about the incident for further investigation. "Now is a great time to update your WhatsApp software", CitizenLab, a cyberspace unit of University of Toronto, wrote in a tweet.
The London-based rights group told Reuters that the company's deeds "resulted in human rights abuses". The point for realizing though is that spyware, which's capable of loading itself devoid of any user-interaction, can get into a device via any channel, whether an SMS/e-mail client, a Web-browser, or some encrypted messenger that contain a not-yet-found flaw thus enabling the attack. Apparently, the software was installed on targets' devices using the WhatsApp voice-calling function, and even if the call was not picked up, the malware would be installed.
The bad news is that it is very hard to know for sure whether your phone has been hacked through WhatsApp, and whether the Pegasus spyware is running on your phone.
While there is now no public data on the number of infections, journalists could be among those affected.
"WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits created to compromise information stored on mobile devices", Facebook said.
A spokesperson for NSO told CPJ via email, "NSO's technology is licensed to authorized government agencies for the sole goal of fighting crime and terror".
Encryption is worthless once a phone's operating system has been violated.
"We investigate any credible allegations of misuse and if necessary, we take action, including shutting down the system", the company maintained.
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Lawful and responsible deployment of NSO technology by intelligence and law enforcement agencies is essential to meet the challenges of what would otherwise be untraceable crime, terrorism, human trafficking and drug cartels, said the letter. "NSO would not or could not use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization".
Pavel Durov recalls the letter with which the founders of WhatsApp have somehow apologized to their users, admitting that they sold their privacy for money.
Whatsapp has released an updated version after it was left defenseless due to hackers who found a way to sneak in surveillance software through voice calls, the Financial Times has reported. Ignoring the warning signs of WhatsApp update on your smartphone for weeks can actually land you in deep trouble.
WhatsApp spyware: Are you safe by just updating WhatsApp?
WhatsApp users should update their app immediately to avoid being hacked, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has said.
Monitor your WhatsApp account for any suspicious activity.
And if someone did decide to switch to a rival chat app, they would still have to convince their contacts to do the same.