Many people are able to use WhatsApp after it was made available made available earlier this year. Check Point passed a warning to WhatsApp users after they discovered a bug that allows hackers to distribute malware, including ransomware, which demands victims pay a fee to regain access to their files.
If you have watched the techno thriller Mr. Robot then you probably know that it’s easy for a techie to hack your social media account. In the television series, Elliot Alderson is influenced by delusion and paranoia…he connects with other people by hacking their social media accounts and uses his skills to expose criminals and later on reveals how imperfect his shrink is.
WhatsApp is a vulnerable network and hackers are able to extort money from its users. The company was alerted last month and immediately issued a patch. Check Point urged users to update their WhatsApp software immediately.
The web based WhatsApp versions are the most vulnerable and about 200 million users are using the version. The WhatsApp web app is a mirror version of its mobile app, enabling all messages, images and other content received on a smartphone to be accessed from a web browser. The vulnerability lies in improper filtering of contact cards, sent utilizing the popular vCard format. This is a screenshot for a possible contact vCard sent by a malicious user:
Check Point security researcher Kasif Dekel discovered significant vulnerabilities which exploit the WhatsApp Web logic and allow attackers to trick victims into executing arbitrary code on their machines in a new and sophisticated way. All an attacker needed to do to exploit the vulnerability was to send a user a seemingly innocent vCard containing malicious code. Once opened, the alleged contact is revealed to be an executable file, further compromising computers by distributing bots, ransomware, RATs, and other malwares. To target an individual, all an attacker needs is the phone number associated with the account.
Kasif’s research found that by manually intercepting and crafting XMPP requests to the WhatsApp servers, it was possible to control the file extension of the contact card file. He first changed the file extension to .BAT, which indicates a Windows batch file. In short, once the victim clicks the downloaded file (which he assumes is a contact card), the code inside the batch file runs on his computer.
“Bearing in mind that WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app, the chances of you opening a vCard sent to you is quite high,” commented Mark James, a specialist at security firm ESET.”Once opened it could attempt to download and infect your system with ransomware.”
Also read:The annoying features of WhatsApp