San Francisco (USA), .- The instant messaging application WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, said on Monday detected a vulnerability in its system that allowed hackers to install spyware on some phones and access the data contained in the devices.
The company confirmed in a press release the information that the Financial Times had published exclusively a few hours ago and urged the 1.5 billion users worldwide to “update the application to its latest version” and keep up to date your operating system as a measure of “protection”.
WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, indicated that at this time it still can not say how many people were affected, but assured that the victims were chosen “specifically”, so that in principle it would not be a major attack. scale.
The “spyware” or spyware that was installed in the phones “resembles” the technology developed by the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group, which led WhatsApp to place it as the main suspect behind the spy program.
The vulnerability in the system, for which the company released a patch this Monday, was detected only a few days ago and for the moment it is unknown how long the espionage activities were taking place.
The hackers carried out a call through WhatsApp to the phone whose data they wanted to access, and even if the recipient did not respond to the call, a spyware program was installed on the devices.
In many cases the call disappeared later from the history of the device, so that, if he had not seen the call enter in his moment, the affected user would not get to suspect anything.
WhatsApp said that just after knowing that the attacks had occurred, he warned human rights organizations (which were among the victims of espionage), cybersecurity companies and the US Department of Justice.
That some of the affected organizations are platforms for the defense of human rights reinforces the hypothesis of involvement by the NSO Group, since its software has been used in the past to carry out attacks against this type of entities.
NSO Group, which operates in an opaque way and for many years did it secretly, designs spyware for its clients, among which are governments from all over the world, which use it to access mobile devices and obtain information.
The “spyware” was able to infect phones with Apple (iOS) or Google (Android) operating system. (EFE)