Hackers are using fake messages to break into WhatsApp accounts

Hackers are posing as friends to gain users' trust

WhatsApp chat on a smartphone screen

WhatsApp users have been warned of a scam that involves a hard-to-spot malicious message that appears to come from someone on your contact list. 

The scam works when hackers send a user a code via text on their smartphone, followed by a WhatsApp message from someone on their contact list. When the “friend” asks the recipient to share the code, the hacker can easily access their WhatsApp account.

Researchers observed similar attacks earlier this year, but it seems users are once more in hackers’ sights.

Burak Agca, a security engineer at Lookout, told ITPro the incident reflects how easy it is for attackers to acquire users' first factor of authentication, username, and password. 

“Messaging apps present a number of challenges to individuals and corporate data security. The rise of significant data breaches across high profile organizations is providing threat actors with vast pools of user accounts to exploit via phishing attacks on messaging apps using those stolen credentials,” Agca said. 

Related Resource

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

How to manage security risk and compliance - whitepaperDownload now

“Added to that, we see seismic events like the pandemic driving mobile device usage, and high-profile incidents such as the personal information of members of Parliament from the UK Conservative party app in recent years, further exacerbating the issue.”

Agca added that iOS and Android devices had harbored a significant security gap recently, creating a lack of protection from exposure to malicious links across emails, web pages, apps, SMS, and WhatsApp.

“That gap led to a proliferation of 'surveillanceware' delivered via exploitation of messaging server infrastructure, chained with mobile app and operating system vulnerabilities, resulting in a catastrophic failure in the onboard security measures in place. On average, 40% of versions of WhatsApp used by enterprises are vulnerable. That represents a significant gap in mobile security where patch management solutions focused on mobile devices are not in place,” said Agca.

The news comes as Check Point researchers warned of a new type of malware in the Google Play store that can automatically reply to all incoming WhatsApp messages with messages containing malicious links or text.

By replying to incoming WhatsApp messages with a payload from a command-and-control (C&C) server, a hacker could distribute phishing attacks, spread further malware, spread false information, or steal credentials and data from users’ WhatsApp accounts and conversations.

Featured Resources

B2B under quarantine

Key B2C e-commerce features B2B need to adopt to survive

Download now

The top three IT pains of the new reality and how to solve them

Driving more resiliency with unified operations and service management

Download now

The five essentials from your endpoint security partner

Empower your MSP business to operate efficiently

Download now

How fashion retailers are redesigning their digital future

Fashion retail guide

Download now

Recommended

Study finds companies are mishandling cyber security recruitment
cyber security

Study finds companies are mishandling cyber security recruitment

28 Jul 2021
Dark web ads offering access to corporate networks increase sevenfold
hacking

Dark web ads offering access to corporate networks increase sevenfold

28 Jul 2021
Number of hacking tools increasing as cyber criminals become more organized
hacking

Number of hacking tools increasing as cyber criminals become more organized

28 Jul 2021
What is the Computer Misuse Act?
Policy & legislation

What is the Computer Misuse Act?

28 Jul 2021

Most Popular

The benefits of workload optimisation
Sponsored

The benefits of workload optimisation

16 Jul 2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: A rose-tinted experience
Mobile Phones

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: A rose-tinted experience

14 Jul 2021
IT Pro Panel: Why IT leaders need soft skills
professional development

IT Pro Panel: Why IT leaders need soft skills

26 Jul 2021