Hackers just need a call on WhatsApp to infect your smartphone. Here's how to defend yourself against Pegasus spyware and the dangers you're running
A flaw in WhatsApp's calls feature has allowed hackers to install on the Android and iOS smartphones of select users, spyware capable of stealing valuable information and tracking any content and documents sent and received with their device. To reveal the presence of the bug was the Financial Times on its website after contacting the offices of WhatsApp and obtaining an official statement from the staff of the application.
The flaw was discovered by developers while working on the development of new features for WhatsApp and was immediately fixed.
The technicians took little time to understand the nature of the problem: the bug allowed hackers to infect users' devices with a very aggressive spyware: Pegasus. Pegasus is a virus created by an Israeli computer security company and used to spy on international terrorists and human rights activists. The software, in fact, has also been purchased by illiberal governments that use the spyware to monitor people "not liked" by the regime.
How the hacker attack on WhatsApp happens
The flaw present on WhatsApp allowed hackers to infect users' smartphones in a very simple way: by making a simple call on the application. There was no need for the person to answer the call: just a simple ring and the spyware would take over the device. In many cases, the hackers would delete the history after making the call so as not to make the victim suspicious.
WhatsApp in these days has contacted many organizations for the protection of human rights to warn them of the presence of the flaw: the spyware, in fact, is also used by illiberal governments to keep under control "dangerous" citizens, or those who fight for the freedom of their country.
What Pegasus Spyware Does
Pegasus is a spyware made by Nso Group, an Israeli company expert in computer security. Spyware is a particular type of virus that takes possession of the infected device and allows hackers to control it remotely. But that's not all. It steals any information present inside, from images to videos up to confidential documents. Pegasus is also able to read messages and emails.
How to defend yourself against WhatsApp flaw
There is no way to prevent Pegasus attack and not even antivirus software is able to track its presence. The only way to defend against the WhatsApp flaw is to immediately update the application to the latest available version. And to be on the safe side, update your mobile operating system as well, in case an update is available.