The politician Albert Rivera has denounced before the Civil Guard that his WhatsApp account has been hacked. Is this possible? Does it mean that other users of the instant messaging application have a risk that their personal information will also be disseminated?
WhatsApp security has not been violated, but it is a phishing attack
Actually, WhatsApp is not suffering from any security problem, no vulnerability has been detected and the application has not experienced any external attack that puts the service at risk. Apparently, it has been a case of phishing in which Rivera himself has collaborated in some way by providing access to his account, consciously or unconsciously.
That is the modus operandi of cybercriminals who launch phishing attacks. Basically, they seek to deceive the user so that it is he himself who provides the sensitive information that gives access to his profile and his personal information. It is a very common practice in email, where you can receive an email that impersonates a banking entity that requests the PIN or access codes to online banking to its users and, in many cases, even to people who They are not your users. But more than one will sting and access to provide that information on a website that, for example, mimics the entity's original, but whose URL changes in some letter. He doesn't realize and provides his personal information, opening the door to the cybercriminal.
In other words, the user is tricked. This is easier for cyber criminals who hacker the entire service. They go for the easiest link in the chain: the user.
In the case of WhatsApp, tricking the user into providing their use credentials is more "difficult" than sending an email and requesting the keys, something that can be done massively. In this case, you have to send the message to the user of a specific phone number, which makes the task difficult for cybercriminals, but as we see, it is not impossible.
How does the scam work? The offender must know the victim's phone number and, using WhatsApp helpdesk, request a password to access the service, as if he had lost it, or as if he were performing a new installation of the service. WhatsApp will send the user, to their phone number, an activation code.
How does the offender access that code? Cheating the user to provide it. A common method is to send you a new SMS or email in which, posing as WhatsApp (simulating your email address, through a website that mimics the official …), you will be asked for that password. The user provides it thinking that it is the company that needs it and, in fact, it is being offered to the cybercriminal in a tray, who has free access to access the account and operate with it, as has happened with Albert Rivera, from whose account began to publish all kinds of content in different WhatsApp groups.
What can be done in these cases? Upon realizing that the security of the account has been compromised, it is necessary to cut off access to the cybercriminal immediately, restoring the application requesting a new access code. One way to protect yourself is to activate double verification, which forces WhatsApp to send a user access code every time you want to access your account. He will have to confirm the code to ensure his identity.
In addition, it is convenient denounce the deception before the telematic crime unit of Police or Civil Guard, providing data and evidence of how the scam has occurred, so that the modus operandi can be fought and warn the rest of the users that do not sting the same deception. Also, to try to hunt the cybercriminal and have to be accountable to justice.