End-to-end encryption is one of WhatsApp's security features that aims to keep your communications confidential. Despite these strong security precautions, WhatsApp is still susceptible to hackers that might jeopardise the confidentiality of your messages and contacts.
Count the number of "How to hack WhatsApp" instructions you can discover online instead of taking our word for it.
We can avoid compromising ourselves if we are just aware of our weaknesses since knowledge is half the battle. Here are a few methods WhatsApp may be hacked in order to do that.
1. Remote Code Execution via GIF
In October 2019, a security researcher named Awakened uncovered a security vulnerability in WhatsApp that allowed hackers to gain control of the app using a GIF image. The exploit took advantage of how WhatsApp processed images when users opened the Gallery view to send media files.
When a user opened the Gallery view, WhatsApp parsed the GIF image to display a preview. GIF files are unique because they contain multiple encoded frames, which means that hidden code could be embedded within the image.
If a hacker sent a malicious GIF to a user, they could exploit this vulnerability and potentially gain access to the user's entire chat history. This would include information on whom the user had been communicating with and the content of their conversations. Additionally, the hackers would have access to the files, photos, and videos shared through WhatsApp.
The vulnerability specifically impacted WhatsApp versions up to 2.19.230 on Android 8.1 and 9. Fortunately, the security researcher responsibly disclosed the vulnerability, and WhatsApp promptly patched the issue. To mitigate the risk of falling victim to such loopholes, it is essential to regularly update your WhatsApp to the latest version available..
2. The Pegasus Voice Call Attack
In early 2019, another significant vulnerability in WhatsApp called the Pegasus voice call hack was discovered. This exploit allowed hackers to gain access to a user's device simply by placing a WhatsApp voice call, regardless of whether the call was answered or not. Shockingly, the target may remain unaware that their device has been compromised.
The attack leveraged a technique called buffer overflow, where the attacker intentionally overwhelms a small buffer with excessive code, causing it to "overflow" and write code into a location it should not have access to. By executing code in a supposedly secure location, the hackers could carry out malicious actions.
This particular attack involved the installation of a well-known spyware called Pegasus, which has been used for surveillance purposes. Once installed, the spyware enabled hackers to gather various forms of data, including phone calls, messages, photos, and videos. It even granted them the ability to activate the device's cameras and microphones for recording purposes.
The vulnerability affected multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows 10 Mobile, and Tizen devices. Notably, the Israeli firm NSO Group has been associated with the use of this exploit and has faced allegations of spying on human rights activists, including staff from Amnesty International. Following the revelation of this hack, WhatsApp promptly released updates to protect against it.
If you are using WhatsApp versions 2.19.134 or earlier on Android, or versions 2.19.51 or earlier on iOS, it is crucial to update your app immediately to safeguard against this vulnerability.
3. Socially Engineered Attacks
Social engineering attacks, which exploit human psychology to steal information or spread misinformation, are commonly employed in attempts to hack WhatsApp. One such attack, named FakesApp, was revealed by the security firm Check Point Research. FakesApp took advantage of the quote feature in WhatsApp group chats to manipulate the text of someone else's reply, allowing hackers to create fake statements that appeared to be from legitimate users.
The researchers behind FakesApp achieved this by decrypting WhatsApp communications, granting them access to the data exchanged between the mobile and web versions of the app. With this access, they were able to modify values within group chats, impersonate other individuals, and manipulate the text of replies.
The implications of this vulnerability are concerning, as it could be exploited to spread scams and fake news. Despite being disclosed in 2018, the vulnerability remained unpatched at the time the researchers presented their findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas in 2019, as reported by ZNet. Therefore, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with common WhatsApp scams and regularly remind yourself of the red flags associated with them.
By staying vigilant and being aware of potential social engineering attacks, you can better protect yourself from falling victim to such manipulation. It is essential to exercise caution when interacting with messages, particularly those from unknown or suspicious sources, and to verify information independently whenever possible. Furthermore, staying informed about security updates and promptly installing the latest patches for your WhatsApp application can help mitigate the risks associated with these vulnerabilities.
4. Media File Jacking
Media File Jacking is a vulnerability that affects both WhatsApp and Telegram. This attack exploits the way these apps handle media files, such as photos and videos, when they are received and saved to a device's external storage.
The attack begins by infecting a seemingly harmless app with hidden malware. This malware then monitors incoming files in WhatsApp or Telegram. Whenever a new file is received, the malware has the ability to replace the genuine file with a fake one.
This issue was discovered by Symantec, who warned that it could be exploited for various purposes, including scams and the dissemination of fake news.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to mitigate this vulnerability. In WhatsApp, users can access the Settings menu, navigate to Chat Settings, and ensure that the "Save to Gallery" option is turned off. By doing so, users can protect themselves from falling victim to this exploit. Additionally, WhatsApp has introduced end-to-end encryption and features like "Show media in Gallery" to provide users with more control over their file downloads. Nonetheless, it is still advisable to exercise caution and be mindful of the media files downloaded through chat platforms.
5. Facebook Could Spy on WhatsApp Chats
WhatsApp has claimed in an official blog post that its end-to-end encryption ensures that Facebook cannot read the content of WhatsApp messages. However, developer Gregorio Zanon has highlighted that this statement is not entirely accurate. The use of end-to-end encryption does not guarantee complete privacy for all messages on WhatsApp.
Zanon explains that on certain operating systems like iOS 8 and above, apps have access to a "shared container" where files can be stored. Both the Facebook and WhatsApp apps utilize this shared container on devices. While chats are encrypted during transmission, they may not be encrypted on the originating device itself. Consequently, there is a possibility that the Facebook app could potentially access information from WhatsApp.
It is important to note that there is no evidence suggesting that Facebook has utilized shared containers to view private WhatsApp messages. However, the potential exists for information to be accessed. Even with end-to-end encryption in place, there is a chance that messages may not be entirely private from the broader reach of Facebook's data collection.
6. Paid Third-Party Apps
You'd be astonished by how many legally acceptable commercial programmes have appeared on the market with the express purpose of breaking into security systems. This technology makes it very simple to do covert WhatsApp hacks.
Your WhatsApp account can be easily hacked by programmes like Spyzie and mSPY to obtain your personal information. All that's required is for you to buy, download, and activate the app on the target phone. Then you can just relax and connect to your app dashboard using a web browser to access confidential WhatsApp info. Of course, we do not urge anyone to really do this!
7. Fake WhatsApp Clones
Cybercriminals all around the world still use an outdated hacking technique called using phoney website clones to install malware. Malicious websites are these clone sites.
Now, Android systems may also be penetrated using the same technique. An attacker may try to install a WhatsApp clone that looks quite similar to the genuine app in order to get into your account.
Therefore, it's crucial that you avoid installing any programmes from dubious sources if you want to safeguard yourself against this WhatsApp attack on your Android device.
8. WhatsApp Web
Despite how useful the online version of WhatsApp is, it is simple to get into your messages using it. When using WhatsApp Web on someone else's computer, this risk exists.
So, even after you exit the browser, your WhatsApp account will remain signed in if the computer's owner checked the "keep me signed in" option during login.
The owner of the machine can then easily access your information.
By making sure to check out of WhatsApp Web before leaving, you may prevent this.
However, prevention is always preferable than treatment. The best course of action is to never use anything other than your own computer to use WhatsApp on the web.
9. Exporting Your Chats
The conventional approach described in "how to hack someone's WhatsApp" tutorials is not the one used in this case. You just need to have physical access to your smartphone for this one.
And no, the hacker just needs a brief period of time with your phone; a few seconds will do. They have time to export your communications to a location they can access later because of this. Anything might be it: a cloud storage account, a chat service, or even an email account.
Once they have your phone, a hacker only needs to travel to a particular conversation, click on the Export chat option, and then choose where they want to save your message history.
The answer? Keeping your phone out of sight and out of reach of strangers is the surest way to be safe. Additionally, you can choose to make WhatsApp fingerprint-lockable. This is how:
- To access the fingerprint lock, go to Accounts > Privacy.
- Turn on the fingerprint unlock feature, and set the lock activation to "Immediately."
Your fingerprints will now be needed to start WhatsApp each time it is picked up after a period of idleness.
Software that records everything you enter on a computer or smartphone is known as a keylogger. As you might have guessed, the hacker can exploit this for a number of evil purposes, like importing passwords, crucial data from documents or emails, etc. It is fair to presume that your WhatsApp chats, along with all of your other personal information, have been secretly infiltrated by a hacker if someone has been able to install a keylogger on your computer or mobile device.
Although keyloggers might be hazardous, you can take precautions to keep yourself safe. The best strategies to guard against a keylogger and prevent having your WhatsApp conversations hijacked include avoiding lending out your devices to other people, using reputable antivirus software, and upgrading your device software on a regular basis.
Explore our comprehensive guide on keyloggers and the best methods to avoid them for more details on keyloggers.