WhatsApp is one of the popular messaging apps in the market, used by billions across the globe. But this has made it a hotbed for attackers, coercing users into using fake versions of Whatsapp riddled with malware. We’ve always known about this issue, but this week, Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp at Meta, shared a few pointers that everyone should carefully follow.
Cathcart shared a list of issues with the modified/fake WhatsApp version that may not look suspicious but can have a big impact on your smartphone.
Reminder to @WhatsApp users that downloading a fake or modified version of WhatsApp is never a good idea. These apps sound harmless but they may work around WhatsApp privacy and security guarantees. A thread:
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) July 11, 2022
In this thread, Cathcart talks about a hidden malware found within these modified versions of WhatsApp by the security team. These apps were available outside of the Play Store, which made it easy for the developer called “HeyMods” to include apps like Hey Whatsapp and more.
He explains that apps like these promise new features, but their sole motive is to steal personal information from your devices. Cathcart mentions that details about these apps have been shared with Google to remove them from the ecosystem. He also points out that Whatsapp will continue to detect and block such apps. He adds that WhatsApp is also taking enforcement action against HeyMods and would pursue legal options to hold such developers accountable.
And he wraps up the thread with a word of advice for users, asking them to download WhatsApp only from the reliable app stores or install it directly from Whatsapp’s official website.
Because WhatsApp has a strict mechanism for such accounts, and if they are found to be using fake/modified versions, the accounts can be banned or other actions can be taken against them.
It is good to see the head of WhatsApp coming forward and sharing these insights but it must be said that Google still needs to do a lot of work to block malicious apps from getting listed on the Play Store. There is no denying that the system has improved but with the changing attack modes, the security needs to upgrade to match the needs.