by: Odleen C.
Spyware crafted by a sophisticated group of hackers-for-hire took advantage of a flaw in the popular WhatsApp communications program to remotely hijack dozens of phones without any user interaction.
The Financial Times identified the hacking group as Israel’s NSO Group, which has been widely condemned for selling surveillance tools to repressive governments.
However, WhatsApp has released a new version of the app containing a fix.
The spyware did not directly affect the end-to-end encryption that makes WhatsApp chats and calls private. It merely used a bug in the WhatsApp software as an infection vehicle. The malware allows spies to effectively take control of a phone remotely and surreptitiously controlling its cameras and microphones and vacuuming up personal and location data. Encryption is worthless once a phone’s operating system has been violated.