May 14, 2019 | Cyber Alerts

WhatsApp announces major security flaw that could let hackers access phones

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WhatsApp admitted a major cybersecurity breach which enabled targeted spyware to be installed on phones through voice calls. The security vulnerability affects both iPhone and Android devices, with malicious code (allegedly) from Israel’s NSO Group, transmitted whether or not a user answers an infected call.

The WhatsApp vulnerability is a buffer overflow weakness, enabling malicious code to be inserted into data packets sent during the process of starting a voice call. When the data is received, WhatsApp’s internal buffer is forced to overflow, overwriting other parts of the app’s memory, and control is given over to the application.

The issue affects WhatsApp for Android prior to v2.19.134, WhatsApp Business for Android prior to v2.19.44, WhatsApp for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp Business for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp for Windows Phone prior to v2.18.348, and WhatsApp for Tizen prior to v2.18.15.

Update your WhatsApp

WhatsApp said while it has fixed the vulnerability the attackers were exploiting, it is also encouraging users to update to the latest version of the WhatsApp app “out of an abundance of caution.” The company said it has also contacted US law enforcement.

Here’s how:

On an iPhone

  • Open the App Store and select updates.
  • Select “WhatsApp” and Update.

On an Android device

  • Open the Play Store and tap on the 3 lines in the upper left corner.
  • Select “My apps & games” from the menu.
  • Select “WhatsApp” and select Update.

For more information see: