World Media

WhatsApp discovers cyber surveillance attack by hackers

WhatsApp discovers cyber surveillance attack by hackers

Citizens and civil rights groups are petitioning the Israeli Ministry of Defense to revoke NSO's export license. When you find Whatsapp, tap the update button next to the app.

WhatsApp is used by an estimated 1.5 billion people. The malware even gives the criminals access to your phone's camera and microphone, meaning they potentially could have the power to record victims without their knowledge. Encryption is worthless once a phone's operating system has been violated.

The spyware gave hackers the ability to take over the functions of mobile phone operating systems remotely.

NSO is most well-known for the sale of its spyware, Pegasus, to state intelligence agencies.

WhatsApp has patched its servers against the vulnerability. "It is an unprecedented security flaw in terms of its potential to run high-profile targeted attacks". It has touted its high level of security and privacy, with messages on its platform being encrypted end to end so that WhatsApp and third parties can not read or listen to them.

Multiple versions of the app were affected, according to Facebook.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, says it's not known publicly if Canada has ever been a customer. He said, "there's nothing a user could have done, short of not having the app". The vast majority of hacks involve some sort of user interaction, such as clicking on an infected link.

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Who's behind it? Its development is likely to have been directed by a government, and the suspected attacks were targeted to specific individuals, WhatsApp said. "In the process of calling, this code gets shipped". It has also alerted U.S. law enforcement to the exploit, and published a "CVE notice" to other cybersecurity experts alerting them to "common vulnerabilities and exposures". "That's really where our highest concern is", a WhatsApp spokesman said.

The good news? All you need to do is update the app, which will happen automatically.

NSO Group told the Financial Times: "Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is exclusively operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies".

"We investigate any credible allegations of misuse and if necessary, we take action, including shutting down the system".

In the past, NSO's spyware has repeatedly been found deployed to hack journalists, lawyers, human rights activists and dissidents.

Founded in 2010 by Israelis Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie, NSO is based in the Israeli seaside hi-tech hub of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv.

Another target of that same NSO spyware past year was an Amnesty International staffer.


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