A vulnerability discovered in Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging app is being exploited to inject commercial spyware onto Android and iOS phones by simply calling the target.
Once installed, the spyware can turn on a phone’s camera and mic, scan emails and messages, and collect the user’s location data.
WhatsApp is urging its 1.5 billion global users to update the app immediately to close the security hole.
The popular messaging service said “an advanced cyber actor” infected an unknown number of people with the malware, which was discovered in early May.
A WhatsApp spokesman, who would not be further identified, said an amount “in the dozens at least” would not be inaccurate.
“WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices,” the spokesman said.
“We are constantly working alongside industry partners to provide the latest security enhancements to help protect our users.”
The Financial Times reported that a vulnerability in WhatsApp allowed attackers to inject spyware on phones by ringing up targets using the app’s phone call function.
It said the spyware was developed by Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO Group.
WhatsApp has about 1.5bn users around the world.
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