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WhatsApp failed, that allowed hackers to access data on phones

The main suspect in the attack is the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group


The Facebook application that has the privacy of its encryption system (encryption) as the main claim, has acknowledged having suffered a computer attack that, without user intervention, has allowed access to the data through a spy program.

The company has recognized the vulnerability detected and has asked the 1.5 billion customers to update the application to avoid it. Facebook has pointed to the Israeli company NSO as the origin of the attack, but it has denied its involvement.

Facebook has communicated

After information published by the Financial Times, which does not know how many users have been affected, but has said that it is not a massive attack but selective, since the affected users are human rights organizations, lawyers and journalists, among other groups .

The attack

It has been produced through a program similar to the one developed by the NSO group and was acting through a WhatsApp call to the victims' phone, which did not even have to answer for the program to come into operation.

The sender number disappeared from notifications of missed calls.

"This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known for working with governments to infect spyware that takes control of the functions of mobile operating systems," Facebook admitted to the newspaper that advanced the news.

?Under no circumstances, NSO has been involved in the operation (attack) or in the identification of targets. Our technology only operates with intelligence and legal agencies. NSO would neither use nor could use its technology to target any person or organization ?, The company indicated by the similarity of its program with the one detected has replied.


WhatsApp has communicated the attack to the affected users individually, to the security companies with which it collaborates and to the US Government.

A patch has been developed that solves the gap in both Android and IOS operating systems and has made it available to all customers to update the program.

The attack questions one of the WhatsApp flags, which ensures that "privacy and security are in their DNA."

According to the company

The message platform is built with a cryptographic system that makes all the information shared only visible by the sender and the receiver or recipients, in the case of groups.

?Your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents and calls are safe from falling into bad hands,? affirms the company.

However, the attack suffered questions this premise. The malicious code detected is able to access encrypted conversations, contact data, images and any phone information.

The infection

It was generated through a WhatsApp call that took control of the mobile without the user having answered it. It was activated directly when hackers dialed the recipient's number and was not even registered.

Facebook engineers have developed a patch that should have already been installed automatically if the user has activated the mechanical update.

However, you can check the application platform and, if you see that you have the option to do it manually, the company urges you to execute the action.

The affected versions

They are before the:

  • Android v2.19.134
  • to WhatsApp v2.19.44 for business
  • to v2.19.51 of Apple mobiles
  • to Windows Phone v2.18.348
  • to v2.18.15 of the application for Tizen.

Amnesty International has taken legal action to have the Israeli Ministry of Defense revoke the export permit to NSO by considering that it has spy products that have been used against human rights activists.