16 May 2019

South Africa: How Safe Is Your Personal Information in a Digital World?

analysis

Earlier this week, WhatsApp got hacked. And even though the attack on the messaging application was targeted at only certain groups of people, it has brought digital safety into sharp focus.

On Tuesday, 14 May 2019, news broke that the messaging app WhatsApp had been hacked, allegedly by an Israeli spyware company, the NSO Group.

WhatsApp discovered the suspicious activity on its system on Friday, 10 May 2019, and began working on solutions. Apparently, the software was installed on targets' devices using the WhatsApp voice-calling function, and even if the call was not picked up, the malware would be installed.

However, the targets of this attack were not just normal, everyday people, but a selected group, or groups, of people.

"The WhatsApp hack was based on software created by a legitimate company, ostensibly to enable governments to combat terrorism, but often used illegally to target human rights groups and activists. The latest attack was discovered as a result of an attack on a UK-based human rights group," technology analyst Arthur Goldstuck told Daily Maverick.

"It used a vulnerability in the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) functionality of the software underlying WhatsApp to install spyware on the victim's handset, which in...

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