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

Next-generation time series: Forecasting for the real world, not the ideal world

Solve time series problems with AI

Free download

The future of productivity

Driving your business forward with Microsoft Office 365

Free download

How to plan for endpoint security against ever-evolving cyber threats

Safeguard your devices, data, and reputation

Free download

A quantitative comparison of UPS monitoring and servicing approaches across edge environments

Effective UPS fleet management

Free download

Recommended

BillQuick billing software exploit lets hackers deploy ransomware
Security

BillQuick billing software exploit lets hackers deploy ransomware

26 Oct 2021
Ransomware hit industrial sector the hardest in the third quarter
ransomware

Ransomware hit industrial sector the hardest in the third quarter

25 Oct 2021
Tesco services knocked offline after suspected cyber attack
hacking

Tesco services knocked offline after suspected cyber attack

25 Oct 2021
Microsoft touts new cyber security help for nonprofits
cyber security

Microsoft touts new cyber security help for nonprofits

22 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
Cryptocurrency: Should you invest?
cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency: Should you invest?

27 Oct 2021
Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021