WhatsApp is the largest instant messaging platform in the world for the last few years. Last year, it crossed the user base beyond one billion, and with added features, its popularity is growing further. These developments have brought the attention of cyber criminals towards the platform, and thousands of hoax are spreading in the environment, targeting the inexperienced users. Additionally, there are issues of malware attacks using fake links and download options. Many of these are carefully crafted to target the internet novice or people who are not much familiar with the web ecosystem.
A significant percentage of the WhatsApp users are not knowledgeable or analytical to identify hoax or malware links. It is due to people from every walks of life use the application irrespective of age group, education level, technical knowledge, and more. A large number of middle-aged and older generations use the messaging platform without knowing the possible threats it can experience. A list of 5 recent WhatsApp hoax or malware would give you an excellent grasp of how these campaigns work and how to avoid risks from it.
- WhatsApp Color Change Link – It is a Malware
In the recent weeks, many people received a message with a link stating it can add colour change feature to WhatsApp. The link became viral as people shared it on the groups as the message asked to do so to complete the feature installation process. Alarmingly, the link only downloads malware to the phone which is a kind of adware in nature. Many people have reported data loss along with the added vulnerability of device to any future attacks.
To avoid this kind of attacks in future, people should refrain themselves from clicking suspicious or unknown links. Everyone should note that WhatsApp never sends any text message or link for any update. If anyone receives suspicious links or messages, they should not forward it to others. Finally, you keep your devices safe with any reliable antivirus, which can protect your smartphones from such attacks.
- WhatsApp Subscription Link
Early this week, many users received a text message informing that their WhatsApp subscription is about to expire, and to continue the service, they should click the link in the text message and pay 0.99 GBP. People who receive this message should not try to access the link or make the payment. Everyone should note that WhatsApp is no longer charging any subscription fees, and these types of messages are an attempt to steal the money and data.
- WannaCry Spreading through WhatsApp
WannaCry was one of the biggest attacks that targeted the PCs around the world last month. People were upset with false reports of attacks through Internet banking, Google Play, and more. One such news was WannaCry spreading through WhatsApp, which later found to be a hoax. The message claimed that the ransomware became “compatible” to WhatsApp and might get activated in smartphones when users open files with “thought of the day” or “good morning” message. Later, various cyber security agencies confirmed the message is fake.
- Dance of the Hillary Video
In mid of May, many users around the world received a WhatsApp message claiming that there is a video captioned “Dance of the Hillary” spreading through the platform, and it is a virus that can format the users’ smartphones. Further, the message asked the users to forward it to their contacts to inform them and avoid the possible threat. Since the message spread out during the days of the WannaCry ransomware outburst, most users believed it and forwarded to their family and friends. Later, News portal India.com confirmed that the message was false.
- Interschools WhatsApp Group with ISIS Connection
It is another hoax which became viral in WhatsApp groups this week. The message stated that there is a group named “Interschools” from ISIS, and people who are getting an invitation from it to join should refrain from joining the group as there is no option to exit from it after becoming a member. Similar to other hoax messages, this too prompted it to forward to friends and family members.
It should be noted that there is no such group which can stop members exiting the group. WhatsApp made the working procedure of its groups around a simpler and easier exit by its members.
People are novice, intermediate, and experts in the internet world. The cybercriminals are aware of this fact, and they see a greater opportunity with less experienced users in internet ecosystem.
By taking few steps, you can avoid being prey to these attacks. Firstly, WhatsApp does not add any features or options through links, and it would only come as an update through Google Play or iTunes. Therefore, people should not click any links which are bogus in nature. Secondly, if you receive any hoax and you are not sure about it, search any news update regarding that in Google News. Most of the tech related news including attacks are usually reported by at least an authentic news media instantly. Thirdly, if you receive any hoax or spam, block the sender and delete the message without forwarding it to your contacts.