What Travelers Need to Know About the WhatsApp Breach

May 19, 2019

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On Monday, WhatsApp — a messaging app owned by Facebook and used by many travelers to communicate internationally — announced a cybersecurity breach that left many of its smartphone users vulnerable to malicious spyware.

CNN reported that the encrypted messaging app has since fixed the vulnerability, preventing any hackers from further exploiting the system. Hackers allegedly breach users’ smartphones by implanting spyware through placing a phone call to them on WhatsApp. The malicious code could be transmitted despite if the app user accepted the call or not.

No official perpetrator has been named yet, but investigators found that one of the targeted victims of the hacking scheme was a British human rights lawyer. The Financial Times reported that the spyware was developed by an Israeli cyber surveillance company called NSO Group — but they have since refuted the claims.

The situation is currently under investigation, but Whatsapp is urging its users to update the app as soon as possible out of an “abundance of caution.” The app can be updated on the iPhone by visiting the App Store and selecting updates — WhatsApp should be listed there. Android users are advised to open the Play Store and tap on the three lines in the top left corner, select “My apps & games” from the menu and then update WhatsApp from there.

Featured image by Chesnot/Getty Images.

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