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Major Global Hack Hits WhatsApp

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has rolled out an update after discovery of a backdoor into the encrypted messenger allowing the installation of spyware software.

The backdoor was discovered earlier this month, according to a report by the Financial Times.

WhatsApp released an update on Monday that is believed to close the backdoor.

1.5 billion people use WhatsApp, many for its end-to-end encryption.

It’s believed spyware originating from an Israeli “cyber-arms” dealer found its way onto users’ iPhone and Android devices through the app’s call function.

Victims didn’t even need to answer the call for the spyware to infiltrate their phones.

It’s believed the malicious code is similar to software from NSO Group, a secretive Israeli company marketing spyware to intelligence agencies that was recently valued at $1 billion.

Its “Pegasus” spyware is capable of turning on a phone’s microphone and camera, as well as trawling through emails, messages and location data.

The software has reportedly been used to target human rights campaigners in the Middle East.

NSO Group told the Financial Times it was investigating the issue, and wouldn’t be able to use the software it sells to intelligence and law enforcement agencies to target any person or organisation.

On Sunday, a UK human rights lawyer who helped a group of journalists, government critics and dissidents from around the world sue NSO, had their phone targeted.

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