The massive use of an application means a high risk as a result of which everything tends to be centralized. Thus, if there is a global WhatsApp over one billion people suffer that each. That opens a huge security breach for people, as a result of which the massiveness of a computer attack is what tempts you to do so. In other words: if I find an error that allows me to control thousands of computers simultaneously, it is much more interesting than if I find one that can affect 30.
This makes it very common for different people – and corporations – around the globe to be interested in finding vulnerabilities. WhatsApp too, since it is responsible for the consequences it can have on people’s lives, so if I don’t benefit from the attack, I benefit from the solution. These vulnerability hunters have achieved a WhatsApp account theft technique that stands out for their creativity: they hack it from an SMS.
It is something truly creative. What they do is send you a false message with a real link, except that this is a link that unlinks your number and your WhatsApp account, which will make your user available, with which they can then verify your account to access it without having to have your chip.
The message that arrives is an account verification code, the same as the one they would send you if you requested it, along with a code to activate WhatsApp and the option to verify your account through a simple link. If you access the link, you are granting access to your conversations and data to whoever sent you the SMS, since what you did is verify the number that the attackers registered, so the app will automatically take all your conversations to them. The issue is that they will be able to copy your data regardless of whether you withdraw access to the app.
In case you have fallen into this type of attack, you can do the same as who attacked you: register your number again and verify it, that will make WhatsApp work on your computer and not on the attacker’s. If the message comes back … this time don’t click on it.
So far there have been several attacks in Europe, which motivated different consumer and user organizations around the world to spread the alert.