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Just Missed Calls Enough: WA Attacked by Advanced Spyware Virus

WhatsApp has closed the spywar opening causing the mobile phone to be infected by a missed call.

The WhatsApp messaging platform says it has closed a gap through which surveillance viruses or spyware can infect mobile phones through missed calls. WhatsApp said, all the while it was suspected that only selected users were targeted by the advanced virus.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said Monday that they do not know the extent of the alleged Israeli spyware attacks, but the number of people known to have been attacked was at least tens. WhatsApp encourages users of the application to download the latest updates of their application to protect themselves against the attack.

Media, including the Financial Times and TechCrunch, identified spyware as a product of a group called NSO in Israel. This group is already famous for its "Pegasus" software that can hack smartphones and activate microphones and cameras & collect location information and send emails and texts.

WhatsApp has not confirmed the NSO-related news, but WhatsApp says they do not "deny" media coverage.

All operating systems are targeted

WhatsApp says the attacker's spyware "contains all the features of a private company that is known to work with the government to bring spyware that can take over the functions of a mobile operating system."

A WhatsApp spokesperson also said the gap for the attack was detected when "our team made some additional security enhancements to (conversation) facilities." The technician discovered that an infected user "could receive one or two calls from a number they did not know." This code was sent during calling. "

WhatsApp is a Facebook subsidiary with more than 1.5 billion users worldwide. The company said that advanced spyware was discovered in early May.

This hacking focuses on all commonly used smartphone operating systems, including Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows Phone and Samsung Tizen. WhatsApp said it had provided information to the US authorities to assist with the investigation.

Human rights lawyers were attacked

Many journalists, dissidents, activists and lawyers who previously reported attacks of NSO spyware. The person who said he was the target was a close friend of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by the secret agent of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at his consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, starting in October 2018. The case has received wide media coverage for some time.

Human rights organization Amnesty International said one of its employees was also the target of NSO spyware last year. Following the WhatsApp statement on NSO spyware, Amnesty International stated that it would join forces to force the Israeli Defense Ministry to suspend the NSO export license.

A human rights lawyer living in the UK told AP's news agency that he was also the target of NSO spyware recently. The nameless activist has indeed received several suspicious phone calls on WhatsApp in recent months. The last call took place last Sunday (12/5).

According to the Financial Times, NSO does not use its own software in Israel, but sells its products to other parties. NSO software is usually managed by state security agents, the Financial Times said.

mobile / vlz (dpa, ap)

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