CYBER SECURITY experts warned yesterday of a dodgy version of WhatsApp that exposes its users to hackers.
The WhatsApp “mod” – an unofficial version of the chat app that grants users additional features – invites dangerous malware into your phone.
That malware can launch ads, purchase subscriptions, and intercept your texts, according to researchers at Russian security outfit Kaspersky Labs.
The popular WhatsApp messenger mod exposed by the team is called FMWhatsapp.
WhatsApp mods add features to the stock messaging app that allow for greater customisation, privacy, security and more.
They’re built by tech whizzes who aren’t associated with the Facebook-owned company. WhatsApp encourages users not to download them.
Kaspersky, a cybersecurity firm based in Moscow, explained the FMWhatsapp malware in a report published Tuesday.
“Even though WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps for instant mobile messaging, not all users are satisfied with its features,” researchers wrote.
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“Looking for the most user-friendly version, people can be tempted to install modified versions of WhatsApp, which provide many more options than the official one.
“In such apps, creators often publish various ads to monetize their work,” they added.
“On the flip side, there are fraudsters taking advantage of this, often distributing malicious code through advertising.”
FMWhatsapp is not available on the official Apple or Google app stores, meaning users have to download it from a third-party website.
Once downloaded, the mod spreads the “Triada” mobile trojan, researchers wrote, which downloads other trojans.
These trojans can then wreak havoc on the victim’s mobile by spying on their texts or signing up to pricey subscriptions without their knowledge.
In one case, researchers spotted a trojan opening a subscription page in an invisible window and clicking the “Subscribe” button for the user.
To avoid falling victim to similar scams, Kaspersky recommended that users only download software from the official app stores.
Users should also carefully check the permissions sought by the apps,
“They may lack some additional functions, but they will not install a bunch of malware on your smartphone,” Kaspersky’s Igor Golovin said.
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