Last week it was revealed by The Guardian that WhatsApp messages might not be as secure as the company claims, which opened a whole new debate about user privacy. But, in Pakistan, the threat is not because of failed encryption rather it’s due to snooping activities initiated by our neighboring country India. As reported by Outlook Pakistan, the Indian hackers are sending malicious links via WhatsApp to Pakistani smartphone users to hack their personal information.
The Indian hackers are exploiting the WhatsApp video calling feature to hack into the mobiles of the Pakistani users. This news doesn’t come as a surprise as our neighboring government rarely misses an opportunity to malign Pakistan. The Cyberattacks initiated by India on our critical infrastructure involving the major websites of Pakistani government institutions is not a new concept. In 2010, 36 govt. websites were hacked by Indian Cyber Army which also included websites of Pak Navy, National Accountability Bureau, Sindh Police among many others
An official document released in December 2016 by the Pakistani government revealed that Indians are using fake WhatsApp video calling invite to bait the mobile users into falling for a scam. Ministry of Information and Telecommunications as a preemptive measure issued a Web User Advisory which refrained the WhatsApp users to follow such link as it can hack their phones.
National Telecom & Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) notified that the malicious links had been originated from the hostile Indian agencies. The document said:
“The above links are developed by Indians. Therefore, it is evident that hostile Indian agencies are attempting to hack mobile of Pakistani users.”
The growing popularity of the messaging application seems to be attracting more and more hackers, with malicious intent, around the world. Recently, another such scam involves a phishing message offering “free internet without Wi-Fi.” This new trick tries to lure the user into using the free internet without the service of Wi-Fi which is impossible.
The message contains an invitation link that leads to a site that claims to activate the free internet service when the message is shared successfully with 13 other people, thus spreading the malicious code to others. The sender unaware of the scam sends it to another who will open the link just because it has been sent by a friend.
Once the message has been successfully shared with others, the website diverts the user to another shady website and tries to make him/her reveal banking information by asking to pay for costly subscriptions or install third-party applications.
It also uses the victim’s browser settings to detect their location and thus, redirects them to a page in their native language. The scam is just preying on the victim to give up their personal information. So if you come across such a message ignore it or report it to the company.