28 June 2019
Messaging app WhatsApp which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, has become the target of surveillance attack from the Israeli firm. Speculation about how secure the platform is has always been a concern. The firm was acquired by social media giant Facebook in 2014, which is known for eschewed data collection practices.
A report has revealed that an Israel-based firm was able to install malware on the messaging app, which could be used for surveillance on phone calls made over the app. WhatsApp has confirmed the vulnerability of its app, however, it did not name the perpetrator. As of now, there is no information available about how many users were affected by spyware.
“WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices,” a spokesperson stated. “We are constantly working alongside industry partners to provide the latest security enhancements to help protect our users.”
A report had stated that code for the attack was crafted by Israeli security company NSO Group, and it was also used to exploit the account of a UK lawyer as well, who has declined to be identified. NSO is valued at $1 billion and is known for its flagship product Pegasus which is sold to security companies and governments to fight terrorism. The company is also facing intense legal pressure in Israel from human rights groups like Amnesty International.
NSO Group has declined any wrongdoing and stated, “Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization, including this individual [the UK lawyer].”