WhatsApp Web Risks Privacy of Over 200 Million Users: Know the Details
When matters of online communications are tabled, there is no other popular name than WhatsApp. This application has over 900 million monthly active users, a figure that was realized just this August.
A while ago, the app reached the 1 billion downloads mark in the Google Play Store. This is no easy milestone to reach, but it does not represent the real number of people using the application for chatting purposes. WhatsApp has for sure changed every aspect of communication with easy to use free services.
Gone are the days of SMS
People no longer use SMS services for communication purposes. Furthermore, there is no more reliance on IM clients such as Yahoo thanks to the fact that the modern day user is always on the go; something that has increased dependence on the smartphone.
With WhatsApp, you can use your smartphone to send text, video, photo as well as audio messages. In addition, the app allows the users to take advantage of the smartphone features such as GPS and other apps such as Google Maps in offering services such as location sharing. The good side of the story is that all of these can be done without the barrier of passwords and email IDs, features that have long been associated with any internet service.
WhatsApp keeps everything basic, but someone is taking advantage
WhatsApp has been very successful at keeping all of its services basic such that all types of users won’t have a problem using the app. The interface is very simple where you only find three tabs on the home page – Calls, Chats and Contacts.
However, the idea of having WhatsApp as a very simple application has actually been taken advantage of by some hackers. As the popularity of the app keeps growing even among the less tech-savvy, the developers of the app keep striving at making things even much simpler for them. Hackers are taking advantage of innocent users with a malicious code that is sent to them via a vCard message.
WhatsApp issue arising from the Web client
Earlier this year, WhatsApp launched a web client known as WhatsApp Web. Ever since its introduction, the app has been garnering steady support and as of now, over 200 million are already using the platform.
The vCard vulnerability that has been discovered affects this web client. What the hacker only requires is to get your phone number. A message is then sent to the victim in the vCard format. Once you open this message to check out the received contact number, the arbitrary code that comes embedded in the vCard starts executing on their PC.
This code will then spread multiple malwares into your system which might eventually grant full control of the system to the hacker. There are some cases where victims have been asked to pay in order to be given back access to their PCs.
According to Check Point, the security firm that discovered the MaliciousCard bug, the vCard contact card looks legit and as such, it may be possible for any user to fall into the trap. The good side of the story is that the issue has already been taken care of by WhatsApp upon receiving the information from the Israel-based security firm.
A new version of WhatsApp Web 0.1.4481 has been released and this version takes care of this issue. There is no word on whether this bug can affect users of Mac OS X.