Facebook-owned messaging platform, WhatsApp, recently succumbed to a security breach. What’s surprising is the nature of this hack, that was unlike any other hack witnessed before!
As consumers, we have been warned, countless times, against clicking on suspicious links in our email or downloading files from untrusted sources, among others warnings. But this time the consumers were not at fault at all. The hack came from the infamous Israeli spy organisation- the NSO Group- that developed a way to install malware on target phones and hack them, simply by calling them on WhatsApp. Let alone users answering such calls, these calls didn’t even reflect in the call log. But through this bug, hackers could install spy-ware on the phones that could not only access the phone’s camera and microphone remotely, but also track keystrokes. WhatsApp had end-to-end encryption, however, that failed to work in this case as the keystrokes were being recorded.
The company claimed that only a small amount of users were affected, but statistics suggest that India, being the largest market of Whatsapp in the world with a user base of close to 300 million, would directly be affected, even by the slightest breach. Both the Indian government and the users are demanding answers now. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has written to WhatsApp asking for information such as- the number of affected Indian users, details of the extent of damage and the measures taken to address the issue.
WhatsApp said that it promptly fixed the bug but the level of damage caused still remains unknown.