WhatsApp messenger users are urged to upgrade the app and their operating systems after hackers were able to exploit a flaw in the platform to remotely install surveillance software on phones using it.
After discovering the flaw, platform owner Facebook released its fix this week.
All the hackers had to do to get into the app was to call it and it did not matter if that call was answered or not.
The call then vanished from the device’s log.
London’s Financial Times reported that the attack was identified earlier this month and was thought to have been developed by Israeli security company NSO Group.
In 2016 the BBC reported that the company had found itself under fire previously for creating software that allow users to “break into” iPhones to install spyware.
Facebook said once it had discovered the flaw it took just 10 days to work out a fix.
‘Users were targeted through this vulnerability by an advanced cyber actor.’
“We believe a select number of users were targeted through this vulnerability by an advanced cyber actor,” WhatsApp is quoted as saying by the Financial Times.
“This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems. ”
While NSO Group was never named, Facebook said it was investigating the issue.
WhatsApp is estimated to have 1.5 billion users worldwide.