If there were 300 million people using your app on a daily basis, you can imagine the panic that might ensue when you had to admit that the app had been hacked.
That’s what happened in May 2019 when a vulnerability allowed hackers to install spyware on a user’s phone. It wasn’t some sneaky spam or malicious email, all it took was a single voice call to the user’s phone. It didn’t even matter if the user answered or not.
The spyware is a potent one. It can go through all your calls, texts, and other data, activate your microphone or your camera.
The spyware affects WhatsApp and it’s Business and is the rare malware that is affecting every brand of smartphone including iPhone, Android, and Windows.
Spyware is often thought of as the “little brother” to malware, viruses, and ransomware in that it typically performs far fewer malicious actions than its aggressive “big brothers.”
WhatsApp was hit by Israel’s NSO Group. Founded in 2010, NSO claims to be helping governments combat terror and crime, and they have targeted journalists and human rights activists in several countries. WhatsApp is officially banned in the likes of China, Iran, Turkey, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.
Fighting Against Spyware
Having a strong anti-spyware software app on your phone is the very best way to avoid getting spyware or something worse in your system. But even those solutions can suffer from a bad day or a hole in the fence. Putting together your own list of best practices can significantly deter the likelihood that spyware is given an avenue to sneak onboard. Here are a few ‘musts’ to consider:
- Lock Your Phone: Sound simple? It might, but it’s amazing how many people won’t trust in this process and want to repeatedly leave their phone unlocked for easy access. The problem is that easy access isn’t just for you if you don’t put security in front of your home screen. Setting your screen to lock after 30-60 seconds is the next recommendation.
- Don’t jailbreak your iPhone or root your Android. Is it tempting to have the ability to complete customize your smartphone? Absolutely! But in doing so you’re going to be bypassing dozens of security protocol and protection that are often the last line of defense between your data and marauding malware.
- Realize that your smartphone did not come with antivirus software. Incredible, right? The fact of the matter is that most people just assume there’s antivirus protection on their smartphones because that’s how their laptops and desktops operate. But it’s not true and as millions of WhatsApp users found out, it’s a severe deficiency. There are plenty of free and paid options available all over the Internet.
- Stop with the Bluetooth already. Not only is having your Bluetooth connection on standby draining your battery like no other, but it is also an easy way for hackers to forge entry onto your smartphone. A smart hacker can gain access to your device through a process called bluejacking if they are within 25-30 feet of your device. From there, it’s a skip, hop, and a jump to accessing all of your private data.