Several news organizations reported on Monday, May 13, that attackers exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp, the popular global messaging app installed on 1.5 billion devices worldwide, and successfully installed spyware on several victims’ devices. Unbeknownst to the victims, the attackers obtained complete access to everything on the their mobile devices: personal and corporate information, email, contacts, camera, microphone, and the individual’s location.
WhatsApp is encouraging customers to update their apps as quickly as possible, and to keep their mobile operating system up to date.
Remarkably, the attackers used the vulnerability to insert malicious code and steal data from Android and iPhone smartphones simply by placing a WhatsApp call, even if the victim didn’t pick up the call. The spyware erases all logs of the call so that victims remain unaware that their device has been hacked.
The WhatsApp hack illustrates that despite their best efforts, Apple and Google cannot completely secure the users of mobile devices running their operating systems. In order to ensure users are properly protected, a mobile threat defense solution must be in place that can prevent spyware from gathering intelligence on their targets. The solution involves multiple steps:
- Identifying advanced rooting and jailbreaking techniques
- Detecting unknown malware
- Preventing malicious outbound communications to command and control servers
All the steps above must be enabled to best prevent sophisticated attacks like the WhatsApp hack. If spyware is simply detected after infecting the device it is too late. It is paramount to ensure that the attack is prevented before it actually infects the mobile device. If, however the device becomes infected, it’s critical that no data be exfiltrated from of the device.
Flaw in the calling function of WhatsApp has let the attackers install spyware, jeopardizing 1.5 billion users data and credentials. Check Point Software Technologies Ltd – a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally did an in-depth research on the cause of this attack against the security patch from WhatsApp. Such instances leave users exposed to data breach, how vulnerable mobile devices are and the importance of taking proactive action to protect mobile devices, especially if they are used for business (e.g. corporate mail).