With over 2 billion global users, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world. It’s a free and easy to use messaging platform for keeping in touch with friends, family and most recently business associates. This has made communication more convenient and easier.
WhatsApp also boasts a impressive end-to-end encryption which makes it the most secure instant messaging application in the world. Recently though, there have been increasing reports of hacked WhatsApp accounts, putting WhatsApp’s security to the test.
WhatsApp account hacks on the increase
Sometime earlier this week, a friend suddenly started sending serial scam messages in a group chat. This prompted us to start suspecting that the account has been hacked. My friend soon came to confirm that she was indeed hacked.
Our situation isn’t an isolated one as reports of WhatsApp hacking has been on a dangerous rise lately. This worrying trend comes mostly from the regular scammers who try to play on the user’s intelligence. But some are truly worrying.
Curious about the occurrence, I made extended inquires and discovered that these hacks have been increasing and growing serially on the platform. This prompted me to extend my research to discover how the hacks were done and how to prevent it so that more users won’t fall victim.
So, here are 4 major ways through which your WhatsApp could be hacked and how to prevent them.
Social engineering Hack
According to my research, social engineering hack is the most common of all WhatsApp hacks. From speaking to my friend and some other victims, I deduced that all of them at one point or another gave out 6 digit codes which they didn’t know at the time were their WhatsApp verification codes.
Some of you might think that was careless of them but the truth is, the hackers exploited the trust they have in friends and family. In the case of my friend, it was through the number of a trusted church member that the hacker requested the code. Something she wouldn’t have suspected.
The hackers use the social connection between users to send requests, asking them to send the codes they receive. Most won’t suspect anything and will send the WhatsApp verification code to their number without suspecting it was a hacker. With a fresh WhatsApp install, the hackers could then completely takeover the account by ghosting it on an illegitimate device.
When your account is hacked, the direct risk is not to you, but your contacts. The Hackers use their access to your WhatsApp to steal your contact. They then continue the chain of hacks by sending similar messages to the contacts on your phone or even request for emergency funds through your personal handle.
The hackers also capitalise on the victim’s trust and credibility to post scams and Ponzi schemes on the group page their victim is affiliated to.
Prevention and cure
If you have been the victim of WhatsApp hack, you can easily reactivate your account by logging in with new SMS verification. However, when retrieving the code, note that the attackers may spam your number with a bunch of incorrect six-digit codes so that you could get locked out for up to 12 hours.
Social engineering is very simple and doesn’t need a technology expert to perform. This means that the attacker can be anybody.
- The first step to preventing social engineering WhatsApp hack is by not sharing your six-digit WhatsApp verification code with anyone, be it friend or family. No matter who asks on the platform, do not put faith on the security of WhatsApp end to end encryption. You will be safer by not sending any SMS code of any kind.
- There’s also a basic WhatsApp’s “Two-Step Verification” process that can be found under the Settings-Account from within the app, that you probably haven’t set up. The feature adds a layer of security by adding a pin and even an email as added security to the verification code sent through SMS. So even if hackers gain your verification code, they would still not have your PIN to finish the hack.
Note: As soon as you finish reading this article, please immediately enable Two-Step Verifications in your WhatsApp’s settings.
How to enable WhatsApp two-step verification
If you are having problems engaging the two-step verification, here is a step by step highlight of how to get it done.
First, click on the three dots on the top right-hand corner when you open your WhatsApp. Then, select settings on the dropdown. After that, click on ‘Account’ and then Two-step verification. Hit the ‘Enable’ and enter your personalized 6-digit pin. You can also add an extra security by adding your personal email.
NexSpy is a next-generation spy app for android. The software allows the hacker to track, record, and monitor everything on the targeted phone, including WhatsApp messages.
The software is surprisingly affordable and easy to use. Although the attacker cannot tamper with the messages displayed, the software is dangerous because every feature on it is well-presented and well-explained so that anyone can use the software to monitor everything you do on the platform.
Thus, blackmail, stealing of sensitive or confidential information are all enabled by this app..
The NexSpy software is almost undetectable on Andriod which make it difficult to remove once detected. However, the best form of cure is prevention and the best form of prevention is giving your phone a password.
The NexSpy has to be installed on the targets phone. So if you prevent any form of an uncensored download, you are safe by default. However, if you have any cause to give your device to someone, make sure it’s someone you can trust.
Viewing Whatsapp messages using Google Drive Backup
We often back up our WhatsApp chats on Google Drive. The data you have stored can, however, be hacked into using Google Drive backup. This is very dangerous because the hack provides access to all your backed up messages, pictures and videos.
The main way of preventing this kind of hack is to prohibit access to your android phone or use android lock app to shut your Whatsapp from preying eyes.
Hacking WhatsApp without QR code
Although my research could not verify this method, there are reports that claim the vulnerability once existed. Last year, CheckPoint found a loophole in the security protocols of WhatsApp which allows hackers to gain control of the messages and modify them as they wish.
The breach was identified between WhatsApp mobile app and the WhatsApp Web. The hackers take advantage of the ‘quote’ feature of the group chat in WhatsApp to either;
- Change the name of the sender of a message
- Change the content of the sent messages and,
- Make private messages sent to individuals on a group to show on a public domain.
This capability makes this method dangerous as it can be used to propagate false information and news.
Similar to the previous hack methods, restricting access to only trusted friends will do a lot of good in preventing hacks. Rapidly draining battery may be a sign of a possible hack. However, using a strong Andriod antivirus should quarantine any suspicious application if they wiggle their way into your phone.
So there you have it, 4 ways your Whatsapp could be hacked. I also highlighted some possible ways to prevent a hack. Endeavour, to enlighten your friends by sharing this article so they won’t be next to fall victim of hackers who lie in wait.
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