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, reports The Financial Times. The spyware, developed by Israel’s secretive NSO group, can be installed without trace and without the target answering the call, according to security researchers and confirmed by WhatsApp. WhatsApp is urging its 1.5 billion global users to update the app immediately to close the security hole.
“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,” said WhatsApp in a statement.
The vulnerability discovered in early May, was exploited as recently as Sunday when a UK-based human rights lawyer was targeted by NSO’s flagship Pegasus program, according to researchers at Citizens Lab. Once installed, Pegasus can turn on a phone’s camera and mic, scan emails and messages, and collect the user’s location data.
WhatsApp is investigating the situation but is so far unable to estimate the number of phones targeted by the exploit, said a source speaking to the FT.
“This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments ..