Advisory issued on WhatsApp video calling feature

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ISLAMABAD: The National Telecom and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) has issued an advisory for prevention against cyber espionage stating that “Indian hostile agencies are attempting to hack mobiles of Pakistani users” through WhatsApp video calling feature.

The advisory issued by the NTISB mentions that WhatsApp has recently launched video calling feature and because of the popularity of WhatsApp, hackers are taking advantage and sending false emails and messages to install malicious app in the garb of enabling WhatsApp video feature.

Some of the links have been traced by the NTISB to have been originated from Mumbai, India and it has been warned that the links are developed by Indians “therefore it is evident that Indian hostile agencies are attempting to hack mobile phones of Pakistani users Malware can take control of mobile and extract data, picture to C&C server abroad.”

It has been recommended that if the user has ever clicked a link to enable WhatsApp video call feature, it is strongly recommended that phone be reset to factory default settings to remove malware. The users have been advised not to click or share such links in future and should keep their phones up to date including operating system and all apps from officials source and WhatsApp shouldonly be installed from Google Play Store. If someone receives any request or text from unknown sources users on WhatsApp, one should not proceed without proper authentication.

This is not the first time that such advisory has been issued, as earlier in 2015 all the government officials were officially barred by the government of Pakistan not to use Viber mobile application as it was being sponsored, handled and used by Israeli Defence Forces.

Though this time, the users have been forewarned by the government that Indian hostile agencies are trying to hack mobile phones of Pakistani users in the garb of installing WhatsApp video calling feature but in 2015 the government officials were asked not to use Viber mobile application.

The NTISB had sent a memo to all the ministries and divisions intimating the officials not to use Viber because of serious security reasons. The memo said that ‘Viber is the most downloaded mobile application and there are serious security concerns regarding the application’.

Regarding the cyber security concerns in Viber the government of Pakistan has informed all the officials that “A copy of the phones address book and call details record are stored on Viber server. Location information is stored on Viber server. Viber can share or disclose collected user information to comply with their trusted law enforcement agencies. Viber can perform following actions on a mobile; read phone status and identity; read your text messages (SMS/MMS); record audio; approximated location network based; precise location GPS and network based; read call logs; read contacts; read our social stream; modify or delete the contents of your USB storage; find account on a device; read Google services configuration; use account on the device; network connectivity; full network access; Google play billing service; view wifi connections; retrieve running applications; read sync setting; modify system settings and test access to protected storage.”