'Israeli' hackers target WhatsApp voice calls with spyware
The FT cited a spyware dealer as saying the tool was developed by a shadowy Israel-based firm called the NSO Group, which has been accused of helping governments from the Middle East to Mexico snoop on activists and journalists
San Francisco: A security flaw in WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps, allowed sophisticated attackers to install spyware on phones, the company said Tuesday, in the latest trouble for its parent Facebook.
The vulnerability – first reported by the Financial Times, and fixed in the latest WhatsApp update – allowed hackers to insert malicious software on phones by calling the target using the app, which is used by 1.5 billion people around the world.
The FT cited a spyware dealer as saying the tool was developed by a shadowy Israel-based firm called the NSO Group, which has been accused of helping governments from the Middle East to Mexico snoop on activists and journalists.
Security researchers said the malicious code bore similarities to other tech developed by the firm, according to The New York Times. The latest exploit – which impacts Android devices and Apple's iPhones, among others – was discovered earlier this month and WhatsApp scrambled to fix it, rolling out an update in less than 10 days.
"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," a spokesperson said.
The firm did not comment on the number of users affected or who targeted them, and said it had reported the matter to US authorities. "This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company that works with a number of governments around the world" according to initial investigations, it added, but did not name the firm.
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