WhatsApp brought a virus that infected 25 million smartphones
The shady program, called Agent Smith, was held mostly by a photo editing utility of the WhatsApp service. Remaining invisible to users, the malware used system security vulnerabilities and replaced installed applications with infected copies. The unofficial 9Apps app store has become a resource for spreading the virus. With the help of Agent Smith, the hackers attacked devices by showing advertisements and stealing personal data.
The hacker program was discovered by Israeli analysts from Check Point Research. According to their reports, the owners of Android smartphones in India suffered the most. About 15 million people were struggling with an attack. An Israeli company specializing in cybersecurity stated that the Agent Smith virus uses all possible weaknesses of Android phones and their software. Therefore, experts recommend users to update their devices to the latest version with the necessary corrections. It was noted that similar malware was found in the Google Store, but it has already been deleted.
Malicious software was distributed through a third-party application store called 9apps.com, owned by Chinese company Alibaba. So far, the attackers who spread the virus use third-party application stores. However, Check Point has already found 11 similar applications on Google Play.
The virus has affected millions of people in India, as well as hundreds of thousands of users from the US and the UK. Total hit at least 25 million users.
The main principle of the “Agent Smith” is based on copying the icon of any common application on the device. The ‘disease’ process occurred this way: users download the application, then the malware masked itself as Google’s usual update tools, after which the virus replaces the WhatsApp or Opera browser icons. After being infected, the device begins to show intrusive advertising and glitch. However, experts claim that hackers could also use a virus for wiretapping or data theft.
Experts recommend users go into application settings and check for programs with names like Google Updater, Google Installer for U, Google Powers, and Google Installer. If such programs are found, remove them quickly. Also, it is important to use only official app-downloading services for your phone.
How can I protect my phone from WhatsApp virus?
WhatsApp confirmed the attack and that it was probably followed by a private company that cooperates with the special services. Without naming the NSO Group directly, WhatsApp clarified that the vulnerability was fixed in the latest version of the application.
In order to keep your phone safe from the virus, make sure your WhatsApp is updated to the latest version. Generally, it is recommended to keep your mobile software up to date to exclude the opportunity to get infected by viruses.
Do not tap on suspicious links. The easiest way that hackers use to send a virus to a smartphone is by sending an SMS message with a link. If you click on it, the malware will be auto-installed.
Do you know any other methods to keep the smartphone safe from damaging viruses? Help us to stay fresh and share your tips in the comments section below!