Hackers likely targeted rights groups

Facebook-owned messenger app, WhatsApp, said on Tuesday the security breach may have targeted human rights groups and that the sophisticated spyware deployed - known as Pegasus - was developed by NSO.

WhatsApp hasn't said how numerous app's 1.5 billion users have been affected, but it's encouraging all users to upgrade to the latest version of the app.

WhatsApp has not notified users directly about the issue, nor is security mentioned as part of the app update process on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

In an advisory submitted to security specialists, the company described the vulnerability as being, "a buffer overflow vulnerability in WhatsApp VOIP stack permitted remote code execution via specially crafted series of SRTCP packets which were sent to target phone number".

"The attack has all the hallmarks of a private company reportedly that works with governments to deliver spyware that takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems", WhatsApp said in a note to reporters.

He suggested the Federal Bureau of Investigation could have forced WhatsApp or Facebook to include "backdoors" or secret ways to bypass security systems in their programming. The devices will be affected irrespective of whether the user answers the call or not. WhatsApp Business users on iOS should update v2.19.51.

WhatsApp has not yet shared much details on the nature of the spyware attack and its implications, but it said it had provided information to the United States law enforcement to help them conduct an investigation. WhatsApp discovered the flaw earlier this month and upgraded its infrastructure.

As the world left shocked at the news of a bug in WhatsApp's audio call feature that allowed hackers to install spyware onto Android and iOS phones just by calling the target, its rival Telegram has warned that WhatsApp will continue to be open to surveillance.

NSO Group is the Israel-based cyber intelligence company linked to these attacks.

Its programs are typically used by government groups to fight crimes and terrorism.

WhatsApp has recently got hacked by and a lot of data and information has been stolen by injecting spyware. We investigate any credible allegations of misuse and if necessary, we take action, including shutting down the system. It is believed that only a select group of users were targeted, and the spyware wasn't pushed out indiscriminately.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes last week wrote in The New York Times that fellow co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had far too much influence by controlling Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, three core communications platforms, and called for the company to be broken up. "Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is exclusively operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies", NSO was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.


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