WhatsApp users urged to act following detection of “serious security vulnerability” 2 months ago

WhatsApp users urged to act following detection of “serious security vulnerability”

The installation of unauthorised software and access to personal data may have been enabled as a result.

WhatsApp users have been urged to ensure that the latest version of the app is installed on their device following the detection of a serious security vulnerability on the WhatsApp platform.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) said it had been informed of the security breach by WhatsApp Ireland on Monday evening.

The DPC understands that the vulnerability may have enabled a malicious actor to install unauthorised software and gain access to personal data on devices which have WhatsApp installed.

The DPC says that WhatsApp has not notified the DPC of the matter under Article 33 (notification of a personal data breach to a data protection supervisory authority) of the GDPR at this point as WhatsApp are still investigating as to whether any WhatsApp EU user data has been affected as a result.

While the possibility remains that EU users were affected and in light of the understood severity of the incident, however, all WhatsApp users are urged to ensure that the latest version of the WhatsApp application is installed on their device, available via the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

The DPC said it is actively engaging with WhatsApp Ireland to determine if and to what extent any WhatsApp EU user data has been affected.

According to the Financial Times, the security vulnerability in question enabled attackers to inject commercial Israeli spyware on to phones, something that was discovered by WhatsApp earlier this month.

Speaking to the Financial Times, a spyware dealer recently briefed on the WhatsApp hack said that a malicious code, developed by secretive Israeli company NSO Group, could be transmitted even if users did not answer their phones, and the calls often disappeared from call logs.

To update to the latest version of WhatsApp, users should follow the instructions below:

For iPhone

  • Open the App Store and along the bottom select updates
  • Any pending app updates will be listed here
  • Select “WhatsApp” and Update

For Android

  • Open the Play Store and tap on the 3 lines in the upper left corner
  • Select “My apps & games” from the menu
  • Select “WhatsApp” and Select Update