Several reports about the WhatsApp message virus are being spread across media stating that WhatsApp lacks safety management. Users are prone to malicious attacks via links or messages received in the app. While cybercriminals always target new users to get sensitive information, WhatsApp is no exception to it. A Conversation News article states, ”Typically, a phone virus works the same way as a computer virus: a malicious code infects your device, replicates itself and spreads to other devices by auto-messaging others in your contact list or auto-forwarding itself as an email.”
How does an Android phone get a Virus from WhatsApp Messages?
According to the reports, malware is installed on users’ phones through WhatsApp mobile chats to infect the contact list or get access to the account. One such malware is known as Android Worm which enters the phone like a message and infects the contact list without harming it. The users’ phones infected with Android Worm receive WhatsApp messages with a download link to win goodies. When the users claim their rewards, they are redirected to fake pages and provided with an impression that they have downloaded an unknown app.
WhatsApp features trackers, however, claims that the malware installation is not true to some extent. They state that malware gets uploaded from images or links sent through the app rather than direct contact with virus package installers. Although they accepted suspicious link transmission through the apps, the chances of infecting multiple pages are highly unlikely, according to the company. But then, WhatsApp has often tried to lure people and users often do not comprehend whether messages received on the app are sent by an authentic source or not. So, it is better to be aware than to become prey to the virus from WhatsApp messages.
How to protect your phone from various kinds of virus attacks on WhatsApp?
Virus from GIFs
This is one common way through which hackers start controlling a user’s app through GIF images send in the form of media files. GIFs are special and may contain hidden messages. So, users download them most of the time and open them in their phone galleries too. An infected GIF helps criminals to get the entire chat history or to whom users are talking to. They can also have an access to videos, images, files or chats sent or received in the WhatsApp app. Although this issue is claimed to have been solved by the company, you must keep your app updated to avoid virus attacks through new malicious software.
Media files hacking
A virus attack through media files can infect both WhatsApp and Telegram. In such attacks, the received media files like videos or documents that need to be saved in external storage usually contain hidden malware. They intend to monitor files received via apps and swap them with other fake files. Such viruses are also used to spread fake messages.
To avoid the issue, you can change the Settings in your WhatsApp Chat Settings. Look for Save to Gallery option and turn it off. This will protect your phone from being vulnerable to such attacks until the company finds a permanent solution for it.
Virus attack from Pegasus voice calls
Pegasus voice call attack is comparatively more dangerous and was first found in 2019. The virus allowed hackers to get access to the phone by placing WhatsApp voice calls to targeted users. Even though the user does not answer the call, the attack could be effective, which means the users remain unaware of the virus attack. Hackers use buffer flow for such attacks and deliberately put multiple codes in a small buffer to overflow them and write codes in the locations where they cannot access them. When the hackers run the code in a location that must be secure, they take malicious steps.
The attackers also use spyware named Pegasus which allows them to collect phone calls, photos, messages and video data. It can even activate users’ microphones or cameras to start recording. The attack is possible on most devices such as Tizen, Android, iOS and Windows 10 Mobile. If your WhatsApp is running on earlier versions, you need to update it immediately to avoid a Pegasus voice call attack.
Many legal apps are available in the market surprisingly for hacking secure systems. They are been used by big corporates to target activists or journalists and cyber criminals to get their information. As a result, some of the apps are built to hack WhatsApp accounts to steal private data and conversations. All you need to do is buy the app from the marketplace and install them to act on your targeted device. You can get all the desired information like contact details, messages, status and so on. Obviously, it is illegal and if found, the hacker can be imprisoned or fined.
WhatsApp Web virus
WhatsApp Web is one of the most used and easy-to-access tools which allows users to access their app on PCs. While the overall experience is great and handy, it comes with dangerous risks as well. The real issue starts when you use the WhatsApp Web version in someone else’s computer and if you forget to turn off the ‘keep me signed in’ option, your WhatsApp may stay signed in for months. This means, that all your private chats or messages remain no longer private. But you can easily avoid this by ensuring that you have successfully logged off when leaving your computer.
Malicious WhatsApp Clones
Many fake and malicious websites have started cloning popular apps such as WhatsApp to get access to users’ Android phones. They will first try to install a clone of the app which looks similar to the original one. One example is the WhatsApp Pink scam where the hackers cloned the original app but changed its colour from green to pink. When users install the pink colour WhatsApp to change the app background colour, it starts collecting data not only from the app but everything stored on the Android phone.
A virus attack through chat export
This is the simplest way through which hackers get access to your device and that too within a short time. This attack is made possible through exported chats which can be of any form like emails, messages or photos. Once the hacker gets access to the phone, they will move the specific chat and click on the Export chat option to the desired location. The best way to protect your phone from such attacks is to avoid giving them to unfamiliar people. You can also apply a fingerprint lock to avoid immediate activation.
This is rather a new way to attack people technically and emotionally. The malicious apps misuse the quote feature in group chats and alter texts sent by people to others. The hackers try to spread fake statements which appear to be sent by legitimate users and thus easily believed by the receiver. The messages sent by the malicious software can impersonate other people or even change replies which can attack users’ minds and psychology adversely.