A MALICIOUS WhatsApp message that installs a ‘worm’ on your phone and infects your friends is targeting Android users.
The sinister text has been highlighted by a prominent security researcher who has created a YouTube video to warn others about the WhatsApp worm.
Lukas Stefanko of tech security firm ESET was tipped off about the scam by Twitter user @ReBensk.
Stefanko described the malware as an “Android worm” that spreads via automatically sending WhatsApp messages to your contacts.
In order to get the worm, you’d first have to receive the malicious message yourself.
It tells you to download what claims to be a Huawei app in the hope of winning a free smartphone.
The malicious message is being spread on AndroidCredit: Alamy
The link to the app actually takes you to a fake and rather convincing looking Google Play page.
If you then click install you’ll end up with the ‘worm’ on your phone.
Then, when you receive a WhatsApp notification your phone will automatically send the person who messaged you that malicious link.
The malicious link will only be sent to a contact once an hour and you might not even be aware that it’s sent if you don’t check your messages very often.
Stefanko’s video demonstrates the scam with a fake Huaweii app that seems designed to display adds and get money from app distributors.
However, it’s possible for the malware to be presented in different forms and some people have tweeted about a fake Netflix app being involved.
The security expert explained in an ESET blog post: “This malware could possibly distribute more dangerous threats since the message text and link to the malicious app are received from the attacker’s server.
“It could simply distribute banking Trojans, ransomware, or spyware.”
Android users could avoid infection by only allowing their phone to download apps from the official Google Play Store.
On most Android phones you can do this by going to Settings, Apps, Special Access and then click Install Unknown Apps.
Here you’ll be able to make sure none of your apps can download other apps on their own.
Always be wary of suspicious links and never install something unless you’re sure and you’ve done your research.
WhatsApp – a quick history
Here’s what you need to know…
- WhatsApp was created in 2009 by computer programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum – former employees of Yahoo
- It’s one of the most popular messaging services in the world
- Koum came up with the name WhatsApp because it sounded like “what’s up”
- After a number of tweaks the app was released with a messaging component in June 2009, with 250,000 active users
- It was originally free but switched to a paid service to avoid growing too fast. Then in 2016, it became free again for all users
- Facebook bought WhatsApp Inc in February 2014 for $19.3billion (£14.64bn)
- The app is particularly popular because all messages are encrypted during transit, shutting out snoopers
- As of 2020, WhatsApp has over 2billion users globally
In other news, Facebook will no longer recommend “political or civil” groups to users.
Scam emails claiming that the recipient has been selected to receive a coronavirus vaccine have been highlighted by concerned experts.
And, Apple has warned that the iPhone 12 could ‘interfere’ with pacemakers.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]