This Simple WhatsApp Hack Will Hijack Your Account: Here’s What You Should Do Now.WhatsApp is the most popular and most used instant messaging app in the world. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has over two billion users….
Our use of messaging applications has increased through the isolation and information overload that accompanies the coronavirus pandemic. And no platform has seen more growth than WhatsApp, the market leader in messaging – worldwide usage exceeds 40%, and in some markets even higher.
It is now clear that the unprecedented public health emergency we are going through has also seen an increase in cybercrime. Every imaginable scam, from phishing to malware, and from delivery hijacks to fakes, has grown exponentially in recent weeks. This is a trend that shows no signs of easing.
And so it should come as no surprise that a dreaded WhatsApp hack that has been going on for a year is now back and experiencing a new boom. The bad news is that it’s foolish for a cybercriminal to execute it, and people seem to have become accustomed to it. The good news is that improvements are guaranteed and it will take you less than two minutes. I’ve laid out how it works below—you need to do it now.
But, first, let’s see how this hack works. It’s very simple. When you install WhatsApp on a new phone, the platform asks for the phone number of the account you entered, and then it sends a one-time SMS to that number. This proves that you have the number. Once you enter the correct code, the phone starts receiving WhatsApp messages for that account.
With this hack, the attacker uses an already hijacked account to contact the victim’s friends. It is not necessary to have a WhatsApp account for this – Facebook will be fine. In his message, the attacker tells the victim’s friend that they were having trouble receiving the six-digit code, and so it was sent to their friend – please send it back. That six-digit code is the WhatsApp verification code for the new victim – by sending it to their friend they are actually sending it to the attacker.
Once done, their own WhatsApp gets hijacked. It’s very simple.
The general purpose of the attack is to use the hijacked WhatsApp account to demand money, claim an emergency or account lock-up, and ask friends for help. With WhatsApp, there is no risk that the backed-up messages can be hijacked, but the attacker will see the groups you are in and see the new messages you receive. This is a crude attack, but it has proven to be exceptionally effective. It’s social engineering at best – we’re coded to trust and help our friends.
The most obvious advice is not to send six-digit SMS to anyone for any reason whatsoever. There have also been other attacks covering other platforms using the same method. When a code is sent to your phone it is associated with your phone. But here is a fix that will keep your WhatsApp secure even if the SMS code is forwarded. This reform will ensure that you do not fall prey to this crime.
When you set up your WhatsApp account on a new phone, the code sent by SMS comes directly from WhatsApp itself. The platform sets up the code and sends it to you. But there is a completely different setting in your own WhatsApp application that allows you to set your own six-digit PIN number. There is some confusion because these are both six-digit numbers—but they are completely different.
Most people still haven’t set up this PIN number – the “two-step verification” setting can be accessed from within the app under Settings-Account. It takes less than a minute to set up. The PIN is for you to choose from, and there’s even the option of a backup email address. When you change phone WhatsApp will ask you for PIN as well as how secure it is when you are using the app.
As WhatsApp explains, “When you have two-step verification enabled, any attempt to verify your phone number on WhatsApp must be accompanied by a six-digit PIN created by you using this feature.” In other words, the hack won’t work.
I first covered this hack back in January, and was amazed at how many people didn’t use this basic security feature—I suggested to WhatsApp that it needed to be advertised better and I’d take that approach. I maintain WhatsApp is secure and encrypted, but there is no way for the platform to protect users who do not secure their own apps.
In the meantime, if you have fallen victim to this hack, reinstall WhatsApp and ask for a new activation code. This will reset the app on your phone. It may take some time to work. I have received reports of users not being able to easily restore a hijacked account, although it is only a matter of time. Once you have restored your account, set up a PIN immediately. That way, you won’t get caught twice.
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How to protect your WhatsApp account from social hacking
Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service is incredibly easy to set up, but this easy setup process means your account is open to abuse if you’re not careful. Thankfully, it’s fairly simple to enable an extra layer of security on your account, which means you won’t lose it if your six-digit activation code gets compromised.
Unfortunately, these security options won’t stop you from a serious hack like the one that struck Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. What it will do is provide another layer of security if someone tricks you into sharing your security code, which is known as “social hacking”.
If you need any reassurance as to why it’s a good idea to use this added protection, allow me to share a friend’s recent experience with what goes wrong when you can’t. could.
One Sunday morning, she received a WhatsApp message from a close friend, asking if she could forward the six-digit code that she was about to receive via SMS. Without thinking, and because he trusted his friend, he sent the code and suddenly found himself logged out of his WhatsApp account.
You probably understood what had happened. It was not a six-digit code; It was a six-digit code that WhatsApp sends to your mobile number via SMS to link it with your WhatsApp account. While sharing that number, my friend inadvertently allowed the attacker to log into his account.
Since her attacker now had control of her account, they were able to send messages from it to any contact she was in the same group chat with. Thus the attacker was able to ask for my friend’s six-digit verification code via another friend’s number; They also gained control of that account and could use it to send messages to every contact they were trying to scam.
In theory, taking over your WhatsApp account should be a fairly easy situation: just enter your phone number into the app and have it send you another six-digit code. The problem is that hackers can spam your number with a bunch of wrong six-digit codes so that you get locked out of your account for up to 12 hours. Then, if you didn’t set your own PIN, this leaves an attacker free to set one of their own PINs on your account, locking you out for a total of seven days.
That’s why it’s so important to remember these two rules:
Never share your six-digit WhatsApp code with anyone - not your parents, your best friend, and certainly not your siblings. No one will ever have a valid reason to ask for the code that WhatsApp sends you over SMS, so don't even think about sharing it. At worst, setting a PIN will act as another barrier to prevent someone else from signing into your account, and it will stop this nightmare from happening to you.
A bit confusingly, the PIN is also six digits long. To install it:
Open WhatsApp and tap on the three dots on the top right of the screen Press "Settings" > "Account" and then select "Two-Step Verification" Press "Enable" and then select your six-digit PIN. The gallery of screenshots below will walk you through the entire process. Once you set up a PIN, WhatsApp will intermittently ask you to enter it so that you don't forget it. This next step is not mandatory, but adding an email address will allow you to recover your account if you forget your PIN. WhatsApp will ask you for your PIN from time to time while you are using it so that you don't forget it easily, but we would recommend keeping a backup nonetheless.
One more thing: In case we haven’t mentioned that in the past, Facebook (the parent company of WhatsApp) has gotten into trouble for using phone numbers provided for two-factor authentication for ad-targeting, then This would be an apology to us. The Federal Trade Commission asked the company to stop the practice last year. When we asked WhatsApp, it categorically denied that it does this with its backup email address, and we think the benefits of providing an email address outweigh the risks.
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