WhatsApp hack leaves users at risk

Messaging app giant WhatsApp is the latest company to fall victim to a hacking attack, providing further evidence that no one is immune from a cyber attack.WhatsApp_logo

A reported 200,000 users of WhatsApp Web, the service that allows people to access their messages through a computer, have been exposed to the cyber attack that allows hackers to access the personal data of victims using only their phone number.

Cyber criminals were sending vCards to random phone numbers they had obtained through the attack. A vCard is a digital contact card that can be sent to another WhatsApp user. People often use the function to send over phone numbers of contacts within their devices’ address book.

The vCards sent by the hackers contained malicious codes that would release a combination of bots, ransomware and RATs. The packages would not have looked suspicious to the receiver until they’d been opened. At that point it would be too late.

Bots slow down the users’ systems, ransomware keeps the user’s data hostage and orders them to pay for its release while RATs enable hackers to remotely control the person’s device. Alarmingly, it has been reported that no hacking tools were needed to carry out this attack.

WhatsApp has now rushed to release a vital update to patch up this vulnerability. However, with 900 million active users, 200 million of which regularly use the the web-based version of the messaging app, this could have been headline news and acts as further proof that no one is immune from cyber attack.