Saturday December 14, 2019
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Update Your WhatsApp Now to Prevent Spyware Attack

NSO limits sales of its spyware called Pegasus to state intelligence agencies and others

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

WhatsApp users must update their app now as a bug in the app’s audio call feature allowed hackers to install spyware onto Android and iOS phones just by calling the target.

The spyware was allegedly developed by the Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group, the Financial Times late on Monday.

While it’s not known how many users were affected by the attack, WhatsApp estimates the numbers to be small. The vulnerability leveraged a bug in WhatsApp’s audio call feature, facilitating the installation of spyware on the device being called whether the call was answered or not.

WhatsApp said it has fixed the vulnerability that was discovered last month.

“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 designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices,” the company said in a statement.

Experts also urged users to update the app to avoid spyware on their phone. “There’s a good chance your app’s already updated itself, but this is a serious vulnerability. We advise you to check all the same,” said Sunil Sharma, Managing Director, Sales, India and Saarc, Sophos, a cybersecurity firm.

whatsapp business app
FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

The Israel-based NSO Group works for the government, looking to infect targets of investigations and gain access to various aspects of their devices.

“The attack has all the hallmarks of a private company reportedly that works with governments to deliver spyware that takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” the WhatsApp statement read, without mentioning the NSO Group.

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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 solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies”.

“NSO would not or could not use its technology in its own right to target any person or organisation,” the company said.

NSO limits sales of its spyware called Pegasus to state intelligence agencies and others. The software has the ability to collect intimate data from a target device. (IANS)

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WhatsApp to Take Legal Action Against Businesses Engaged in Abusing Bulk Messaging

"We will continue to provide capabilities to help businesses communicate with their customers," said WhatsApp

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WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

WhatsApp will take legal action against businesses engaged in or assisting others in abusing automated or bulk messaging on its platform.

The company has built two tools — the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API — to help companies manage customer interactions.

The company said that its products are not intended for bulk or automated messaging, both of which have always been a violation of its terms of service.

“WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our terms of service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform,” the Facebook-owned platform said in a statement.

For example, off-platform information includes public claims from companies about their ability to use WhatsApp in ways that violate its terms.

whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

“This serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies for which we only have off-platform evidence of abuse if that abuse continues beyond December 7, 2019, or if those companies are linked to on-platform evidence of abuse before that date,” said WhatsApp.

The platform, on an average, bans over two million accounts per month for bulk or automated behaviour and over 75 per cent of those accounts did not have any recent user reports.

An account that registered five minutes before attempting to send 100 messages in 15 seconds is almost certain to be engaged in abuse, as is an account that attempts to quickly create dozens of groups or add thousands of users to a series of existing groups.

Also Read: Apple Brings iOS, iPadOS 13.3 with a Host of Bug Fixes and Improvements

“Using the on-platform information available within WhatsApp, we’ve found and stopped millions of abusive accounts from operating on our service,” it said.

In addition to technological enforcement, said WhatsApp, it also takes legal action against individuals or companies that it links to on-platform evidence of such abuse.

“We will continue to provide capabilities to help businesses communicate with their customers,” said WhatsApp. (IANS)