In these months of confinement, cybercriminals have increased attacks to steal WhatsApp accounts by SMS.
If you Google how to hack whatsapp ”, in less than 0.4 seconds you get more than 2.5 million results. WhatsApp has the gift of being the most used messaging application in the world, and one of the most popular, since 1/4 of the entire world population uses it every month. But the more than 2 billion active users carry the curse of being one of the favorite apps of cybercriminals, due to the enormous viral reach that WhatsApp offers.
Steal your WhatsApp account with a simple message
In mid-February, when this Coronavirus was something that only affected China, the Civil Guard of Navarra warned of an attempted scam that ran through WhatsApp after receiving several complaints that shared the same starting point. A Phishing campaign (identity theft) that begins by first receiving an SMS message with a code that you have not requested, and then you receive this message on your WhatsApp:
“Hello, I’m sorry, I sent you a 6-digit code by SMS by mistake , can you come to me please? It’s urgent”
The message is sent to you by WhatsApp by a contact that you have in your agenda, an acquaintance with whom you speak through the app, therefore you have no reason to doubt. The problem is that if you send them that code, the person on the other side of the conversation can steal your WhatsApp account and take over your number, your contacts and your chats.
The thing works like this:
- A cybercriminal steals the WhatsApp account of a contact of yours from the app, gaining access to their contact list. Now decide to go for them, you included / a.
- To achieve this, the guy installs WhatsApp on a device he owns and enters your phone number to associate it with the application
- The WhatsApp system sends to that number that the hacker tries to register (your number) the verification code he needs for security reasons, to verify that it is the correct user and finish the installation of the app
- The hacker knows that you have just received an SMS with a 6-digit code , and using the number that he has taken from one of your contacts, he pretends to be this to ask you to please pass it on.
- If you do, the cybercriminal will be able to complete the registration of your WhatsApp account on their device, and at that moment they will remove your access to it , having access to your contacts and groups.
In case this message reaches you, delete it immediately and notify your contact to tell him what happens to his account – but not by calling him on his mobile, but at another number. You can also do like this Twitter account and troll the hacker that well.
The SMS message you should delete
This same technique is the one that has been leading a growing campaign of cyber attacks in recent months that expert cybersecurity companies such as Panda Security have noticed. In his blog, Panda points out that the Modus Operandi is basically the same, only that the criminals are not posing as your contact in the app, but directly by the company’s technical support team.
In the text, they indicate that someone has recently registered a WhatsApp account with the same phone number as the victim, with what could be “an illegitimate login . ” In order to ” verify” that the person they are talking to is the owner of that account, cybercriminals ask you to resend them a security code that you will receive in a few minutes via SMS.
And then they already manage to access your account, change the password and have, without your knowing it, your entire contact list to repeat the scam.
From here it can happen as the case reported above, that they impersonate you and other contacts, to continue stealing accounts. If you receive an SMS or a similar message on your WhatsApp, be suspicious, delete it and contact WhatsApp technical support to tell them what happened.