As I am writing this, cyber criminals are taking advantage of a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allows them to secretly place spyware on victims' mobile phones. The way it works is that the criminal calls the victim, and without even answering the phone, the spyware installs! This spyware can then activate a victim's camera and microphone, scan their files, and view their activity.
What does all of this mean?
Spyware is malware that gathers information from victims without their knowledge. Technopedia offers an easy-to-understand definition for vulnerability and provides a great explanation afterwards. If you want technical details, then a definition for buffer overflow, which is the exact vulnerability the attackers are exploiting, can be found here.
What do you need to do about it?
This week, WhatsApp released an update that fixes the problem. In order for the update to work, you must update all of the applications on your phone. Time magazine provides really great instructions on how to accomplish this. If WhatsApp is installed on any of your devices, then do this today!
According to Time magazine, iOS users should do the following:
Similarly, Time instructs Android users to update their apps as follows: