As you may have read in the news media, the extremely popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp was recently discovered to have a flaw in it which could have allowed hackers to install spyware through an infected WhatsApp phone call. This spyware is designed to crawl through your calls, text messages and other data, and even activate the camera and microphone to spy on you and your device without you knowing.
Who is Affected?
Potentially, this could have affected any of the 1.5 billion WhatsApp users, no matter if they are using Android, iPhone, Windows Phone or even Tizen devices. In reality, the average person doesn’t have much to worry about, as the spyware software is so incredibly expensive (we are talking millions of dollars) that the chances of it being in the hands of a bedroom hacker looking to steal your data is extremely remote.
There have been reports of some people being remotely monitored through this spyware, including a human rights lawyer and a researcher from Amnesty International, but exactly how many others are affected is unclear.
What You Should Do
Facebook/WhatsApp were quick to release an update for the app which fixed the flaw. If you haven’t received a WhatsApp call that dropped strangely or unexpectedly, it’s even more unlikely that you are affected, but if you are worried you should make sure that WhatsApp is updated to the latest version.
To check the version you have, long-press the WhatsApp icon on your Android phone, then tap “App info” from the menu that pops up. You are looking for version 2.19.134 or later. If you see you are running an older version, open the Play Store app, tap the menu button and then “My Apps & Games” and check for available updates.
You can read more about using Play Protect to scan your device for malicious apps here.