Fastest Ways Your WhatsApp Messages Can Be Hacked, stay safe online! WhatsApp is a popular messaging app that has become an indispensable part of our lives as a channel of communication. But a hacked WhatsApp chat is probably everyone’s worst nightmare. Ways Your WhatsApp Chats Could Be Hacked & How To Avoid Them.
WhatsApp is a popular and easy to use the messaging app. It has some security features, like the use of end-to-end encryption, which tries to keep your messages private. However, as good as these security measures are, WhatsApp still isn’t immune to hacks, which can end up compromising the privacy of your messages and contacts.
As knowing is half the battle, if we are simply aware of vulnerabilities, we can then take concrete steps to avoid comprising ourselves. To that end, here are a few ways that WhatsApp can be hacked. Think WhatsApp’s message encryption makes it secure? Here are several ways your WhatsApp can be hacked.
Awakened Remote Code Execution via GIF
In October 2019, security researcher Awakened revealed a vulnerability in WhatsApp that let hackers take control of the app using a GIF image. The hack works by taking advantage of the way WhatsApp processes images when the user opens the Gallery view to send a media file.
When this happens, the app parses the GIF to show a preview of the file. GIF files are special because they have multiple encoded frames. This means that code can be hidden within the image.
If a hacker were to send a malicious GIF to a user, they could compromise the user’s entire chat history. The hackers would be able to see who the user had been messaging and what they had been saying. They could also see users’ files, photos, and videos sent through WhatsApp.
The vulnerability affected versions of WhatsApp up to 2.19.230 on Android 8.1 and 9. Fortunately, Awakened disclosed the vulnerability responsibly and Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, patched the issue. To keep yourself safe from this problem, you should always keep WhatsApp updated.
The Pegasus Voice Call Attack
Another WhatsApp vulnerability discovered in early 2019 was the Pegasus voice call hack. This scary attack allowed hackers to access a device simply by placing a WhatsApp voice call to their target. Even if the target didn’t answer the call, the attack could still be effective. And the target may not even be aware that malware has been installed on their device.
This worked through a method known as buffer overflow. This is where an attack deliberately puts heaps of code into a small buffer so that it “overflows” and writes code into a location it shouldn’t be able to access. When the hacker can run code in a location that should be secure, they can take malicious steps.
This attack installed an older and well-known piece of spyware called Pegasus. This allowed hackers to collect data on phone calls, messages, photos, and videos. It even let them activate devices’ cameras and microphones to take recordings.
This vulnerability is applicable on Android, iOS, Windows 10 Mobile, and Tizen devices. Most recently, it was used by the Israeli firm, NSO Group, which has been accused of spying on Amnesty International staff and other human rights activists. After news of the hack broke, WhatsApp was updated to protect it from this attack.
If you are running WhatsApp version 2.19.134 or earlier on Android or version 2.19.51 or earlier on iOS, then you need to update your app immediately.
Spoofing Method to spy on WhatsApp chats
By using Spoofing Method, WhatsApp chats can be hacked without physical access to the device and this is what makes it dangerous and difficult to prevent. While it is an elaborate task, it isn’t entirely impossible.
In this method, the attacker has to find the MAC address of the target smartphone. After that, they can make use of Busy Box and Terminal Emulator on their smartphone to change the Wi-Fi MAC Address on their device to the address of the target device.
Next, they install WhatsApp and enter the phone number of the target device. Then they get the verification code on the target device to log in. Once the verification code arrives, they use it to log in to the target’s WhatsApp account and delete the verification code to prevent detection by the victim.
However, one red flag could be that WhatsApp on the victim’s device would log out when the hacker signs in. But unfortunately, the damage might be done by then.
Socially Engineered Attacks
Another way that WhatsApp is vulnerable is through socially engineered attacks, which exploit human psychology to steal information or spread misinformation.
A security firm called Check Point Research revealed one example of this attack, which they named FakesApp. This allowed people to misuse the quote feature in a group chat and to alter the text of another person’s reply. Essentially, hackers could plant fake statements that appear to be from other legitimate users.
The researchers could do this by decrypting WhatsApp communications. This allowed them to see data sent between the mobile and the web versions of WhatsApp.
And from here, they could change values in group chats. Then they could impersonate other people, sending messages which appeared to be from them. They could also change the text of replies.
This could be used in worrying ways to spread scams or fake news. Even though the vulnerability was disclosed in 2018, it had still not been patched by the time the researchers spoke at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas in 2019.
Media File Jacking
Media File Jacking affects both WhatsApp and Telegram. This attack takes advantage of the way apps receive media files like photos or videos and write those files to a device’s external storage.
The attack starts by installing malware hidden inside an apparently harmless app. This can then monitor incoming files for Telegram or WhatsApp. When a new file comes in, the malware may swap out the real file for a fake one.
Symantec, the company that discovered the issue, suggests it could be used to scam people or to spread fake news.
There is a quick fix for this issue, though. Using WhatsApp, you should look in Settings and go to Chat Settings. Then find the Save to Gallery option and make sure it is set to Off. This will protect you from this vulnerability. However, a true fix for the issue will require app developers to entirely change the way that apps handle media files in the future.
Paid Third-Party Apps to Spy on WhatsApp chats
There are a number of cell monitoring apps like EvaSpy or Spyzie available that have been specifically made to monitor chats on WhatsApp and other messaging apps. For this method to work, someone has to install this app on your phone by accessing it physically and grant access in order to surveil your chats.
Some of these spy apps offer extra features like listening to live surroundings, screen recording, keylogging, camera control, screenshots, and recording chats. One can even take this to a higher level and opt for Spyware that hacks WhatsApp chats remotely. Some of the known names are POCWAPP and WSP 3.0 – WhatsApp Scan Pro.
Now, these apps are paid and are available on DarkNet so it’s not something that is used frequently, but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that such tools are available that can breach your privacy.