WhatsApp Users Urged To Update App After Spyware Discovery

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WhatsApp said it has fixed the vulnerability that was discovered last month.

Once installed on a phone, the spyware - named Pegasus - can extract virtually all the data that's on a smartphone; whether that be text messages, Global Positioning System location, email, browser history or anything else.

Coincidentally, one UK-based attorney targeted by the spyware is now involved in a lawsuit against NSO Group - the Israeli company which developed the software.

WhatsApp has released a warning to users of the app to install an update after a security flaw was identified. The Pegasus spyware does not affect or involve the app's encryption.

It echoed WhatsApp in encouraging users to update the app, as "the possibility remains that European Union users were affected". The software can turn on a phone's camera and microphone without the user knowing about it and also collect location data.

It's not yet known who carried out the attack.

A security advisory on the Facebook website does not go into much detail about the exploit, which takes advantage of a buffer overflow vulnerability. The report adds that the call would sometimes not even show up in a user's call log.

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Sunday's attack was blocked by WhatsApp, but it's not known how many attacks have slipped through the net - or how many handsets may have been compromised.

WhatsApp continued to say that it is deeply concerned about the abuse of these capabilities, and has also given information to USA law enforcement to aid in the investigation.

WhatsApp has advised its users to update the app.

When speaking to the Financial Times, NSO Group said that it vets its customers and investigates abuse, but it is also careful to not involve itself with the actual applications of its software. "NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization, including this individual". For Android devices, that involves opening the Google Play store, and looking in "My Apps & Games" to see if WhatsApp needs updating or not.

The company said it has since quickly resolved the issue and pushed out a patch.

The Financial Times reported that a vulnerability in WhatsApp allowed attackers to inject spyware on phones by ringing up targets using the app's phone call function.

On Monday, Amnesty International said it was backing legal action against the Israeli Ministry of Defence demanding that it revokes NSO Group's export licence.

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