"If you consider how widely used WhatsApp is, by journalists, confidential sources, activists, lawyers, businesses and everyday citizens-this attack is extremely concerning", Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer at the software company Carbon Black, said.
The spyware injected through the vulnerability is believed to be the Pegasus malware, developed by Israeli company NSO Group, according to a report in the Financial Times. So if you see an update is available for WhatsApp, it is highly recommended that you install it on all of your devices.
It's unclear how many Android and iOS devices were affected by the vulnerability, but as you can imagine, anyone with access to the spyware could hack any WhatsApp user. While it does offer "Security by Default" in the form of end-to-end encryption, there will always be vulnerabilities existing in the wild that keep companies leapfrogging one another in the form of exploits and security patches.
Messaging app WhatsApp said it's fixed a vulnerability in its software that allowed hackers to spy on users' emails and other personal information. Logs of the incoming calls were often erased, according to the report. It was used as recently as Sunday to attack a human rights lawyer in the United Kingdom with the Pegasus program - a commercial spyware tool developed by Israeli company NSO.
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Here's what WhatsApp users can do following the breach: Even though WhatsApp said it remedied the vulnerability, it's urging users to update their smartphones with the latest version of the WhatsApp app. It went on to say that it has "briefed a number of human rights organisations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society".
NSO said its technology was licensed to government agencies "for the sole objective of fighting crime and terror", adding that those agencies determine how the technology is used without any involvement from the company. It also said the effort had "all the hallmarks" of a private company that works with governments to push spyware. "NSO would not or could not use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization".
The company, which has some 1.5 billion users worldwide, has been in contact with a number of human rights organisations to share information on the incident, as well as U.S. law enforcement to assist in conducting an investigation. If it shows only the option to uninstall or open, then your app has already been updated.