BACKGROUND:

It has been reported that multiple police forces in the UK are warning WhatsApp users about scammers that could hijack their accounts. The scam involves security codes and has existed for a while but is rearing its head again. The old scam involves a message that’s seemingly from your friend. A usually hacker poses as a friend or someone you may know in order to gain access to your account. They could then use your account to launch attacks on other people or try and scam them out of money or information.

Experts Comments

June 30, 2021
Burak Agca
Security Engineer
Lookout

Rather than vulnerabilities, or a compromise of their services, WhatsApp (Facebook) has a growing issue in keeping its customers' confidence. The continuous re-emergence of this forwarding scam from within the app isn’t very surprising. If you consider the increased volume of cybercrime, attackers will inevitably reuse previously successful tactics and campaigns.

 

We have seen the reporting qualifying that over 10 billion credentials have been made freely available on the internet this year

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Rather than vulnerabilities, or a compromise of their services, WhatsApp (Facebook) has a growing issue in keeping its customers' confidence. The continuous re-emergence of this forwarding scam from within the app isn’t very surprising. If you consider the increased volume of cybercrime, attackers will inevitably reuse previously successful tactics and campaigns.

 

We have seen the reporting qualifying that over 10 billion credentials have been made freely available on the internet this year alone.  The 100GB “RockYou2021” TXT file leaked 8.4 billion to a dark web forum. The personal data of over 530 million Facebook users was posted in a low-level hacking forum and 700 million accounts have just been released up for sale on RaidForums by a hacker calling himself “GOD User TomLiner.” That is before a single reported breach by companies is accounted for. With that, attackers now have an almost limitless pool of users to go after. 

 

This incident exemplifies how a threat actor doesn’t have to be an advanced cybercriminal or nation-state. The bar to entry is very low now as pre-built phishing kits and malware are available for as little as a few dollars online. Your contacts represent a significant part of your digital footprint and exposure. Think about how many people you communicate with every day using WhatsApp. Over the years through all your conversations, there could be significant amounts of sensitive information shared amongst friends and colleagues alike. 

 

Names, locations, pictures, addresses, contact numbers are the obvious ones, but how many times have you sent a credit card number or username and password over WhatsApp? The attacker is counting on users’ lack of hygiene within WhatsApp to be able to harvest vast amounts of personally identifiable information (PII), compromise your account, and continue on to the next person in your address book.  

 

Facebook will be challenged to keep customer confidence as it battles a series of press stories and court cases that bring into question the continuous exploitation of vulnerabilities in its app and signalling services,  its data handling, and security practices. The fascinating case of NSO group vs Facebook continues as the courts push for the surveillanceware company to bring to the bar its executives and reveal its methods for compromising the WhatsApp infrastructure and targeting individuals with nation-state-backed surveillanceware. NSO Group has been under litigation by FaceBook for targeting 1400 high profile, high net worth individuals with its Pegasus and Chryasor RATs (remote access trojans) and highly lucrative mAPT’s (mobile Advanced Persistent Threats), allowing its customer the ability to perform espionage against targets and even command and control their devices. 

 

Individuals and enterprises alike can’t rely on WhatsApp saying its messaging is encrypted to keep sensitive data safe. More needs to be done both by the consumer and by WhatsApp itself to ensure a truly secure experience within the app. WhatsApp users can be proactive and download a mobile security solution that reduces the risk of falling victim to WhatsApp scams - especially ones that try to phish your credentials or quietly install malware. 

 

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June 30, 2021
Javvad Malik
Security Awareness Advocate
KnowBe4

Whatsapp has been popular among individuals, but it's also gaining popularity with businesses, and as a result are becoming an even more attractive target. 

 

Criminals that gain access to whatsapp accounts can launch attacks against contacts, snoop on conversations, or try and compromise business accounts or conduct fraudulent transactions.

 

Users of Whatsapp and other messaging platforms need to remain vigilant at all times and be suspicious of unexpected or unknown messages. If a friend

.....Read More

Whatsapp has been popular among individuals, but it's also gaining popularity with businesses, and as a result are becoming an even more attractive target. 

 

Criminals that gain access to whatsapp accounts can launch attacks against contacts, snoop on conversations, or try and compromise business accounts or conduct fraudulent transactions.

 

Users of Whatsapp and other messaging platforms need to remain vigilant at all times and be suspicious of unexpected or unknown messages. If a friend makes an unusual request, they should try to contact them outside of whatsapp to determine if the request is genuine or not. 

 

Similarly, secure login codes or MFA codes sent via text or in the app should never be shared with anyone. 

 

Organisations should also ensure staff are provided appropriate security awareness about the risks that can manifest through social media and chat applications and ensure any suspicious activity is reported.

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