WhatsApp is used by 1.5 billion people
Users of WhatsApp should be looking to update the messaging app following a security breach that left Android and iPhone users susceptible to malicious spyware.
According to Financial Times, the surveillance software was developed by Israeli cyber service NSO Group. Attackers could gain access to a phone and infect the user simply by calling the number, regardless if they answered, according to the report.
The NSO Group — which did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment — released a statement to the Financial Times, claiming they were not part of the cyber attack.
“Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” the company said. “NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization, including this individual.”
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook and used by 1.5 billion people, released a statement after they discovered the security breach, and urged users to update the app.
“The attack has all the hallmarks of a private company reportedly that works with governments to deliver spyware that takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” said a spokesperson for WhatsApp, which did not name the private company. “We have briefed a number of human rights organizations to share the information we can and to work with them to notify civil society.”
The company said it was still investigating the breach but believed only a “select number of users were targeted through this vulnerability by an advanced cyber actor.”
WhatsApp also revealed a vulnerability issue was first discovered earlier in May but was fixed immediately within the company. The app has now created a new update for all users to use. For those using iPhones, open the App Store, select updates, select WhatsApp and then hit Update. On Android devices, open the Play Store, click the three lines in the upper lefthand corner, select my apps & games, select WhatsApp and then click Update.
In addition, Facebook issued a security warning to all users detailing the versions of WhatsApp that were affected by the security breach.