Researchers have unearthed another problematic scam that exists in WhatsApp and has been undergoing exploitation for quite some time. This particular scam can be triggered by simply sending an animated GIF inside the famous chat app. WhatsApp added support for GIFS back in 2017.
Hackers have now come up with means of exploiting the looping animations to gain control over your smartphone and read your texts. This is something that the WhatsApp users have already been concerned about after reports of a new UK-US treaty this month. The latest bug that is only creating problems for Android handsets may allow hackers to steal files that are saved on your smartphone or even allow them to view complete chat history.
This issue was found by Awakened, who is a security researcher based in Singapore. As per Awakened, users will have to create a specifically-laced GIF in order to send the malicious code. The fact that the malicious code loads with the preview are what makes it even more troublesome. You don’t have to click on a GIF to load the malicious code – implying that you have little control once you receive the GIF.
People who are most likely to get affected by the scam are the ones who are running Android 9.1 Oreo and Android 9.0 Pie – a big portion of the total Android market share. Luckily, there are a few convenient fixes for keeping yourself safe from such scams. The GIF attack on your WhatsApp will only work on older versions of Android – 8.1 Oreo that was launched in August 2017. So, the first thing that you need to do is to update your Android to the latest version.
What if you cannot update your Android phone? You can always keep yourself secure by updating your WhatsApp to version 2.19.244 or newer. In fact, as a rule of thumb, you should never delay updating your OS and apps since software developers are always fixing such vulnerabilities.