Beware what photos you open on WhatsApp or Telegram, it could be malware
With over one billion active users on WhatsApp and 100 million monthly active users on Telegram, these instant messaging apps present themselves as attractive targets for hackers. Cyber security vendor Check Point recently uncovered a severe vulnerability in both apps' online platforms that allows hackers to take over users' accounts and access personal data such as photos, videos and contact lists.
Hackers can exploit the vulnerability by users innocent-looking photos that are infected with malware. For WhatsApp, the hacker can gain control of the account and access all locally stored data once the user opens the file. For Telegram, users have to click again to open a new tab for hackers to gain access to the local storage.
The Verge - “By simply sending an innocent-looking photo, an attacker could gain control over the account, access message history, all photos that were ever shared, and send messages on behalf of the user,” said Oded Vanunu, head of product vulnerability research at Check Point.
When Check Point shared this information with WhatsApp and Telegram, both companies verified and acknowledged the security issue quickly. A fix for the online platforms has since been issued worldwide. To ensure that you are using the latest version, WhatsApp and Telegram advise that you restart the browser. There are also two other preventive measures recommended by Check Point that you can take:
- Periodically clean logged-in computers from WhatsApp and Telegram as this will allow you to control the devices that are hosting your account, and shut down unwanted activity.
- Avoid opening suspicious files and links from unknown users.