Our favourite chat apps, Whatsapp and WeChat, can be used against us.

The adoption of easy to use instant messaging and mobile apps has made the job of filtering SPAM, viruses and malware a lot more challenging. Cyber hackers are taking advantage as the general public seems to continue to have a sense of ‘trust’ for anything that can be accessed or downloaded. The more recent WeChat Trojan virus along with the Whatsapp malware has caused an increase in alarm, along with some planned major changes to the applications.

WeChat has become a very popular messaging application that offers multiple features for their users. Created in China, WeChat brings the ability for the users to make payments via their bank accounts. This is a high level attraction for cyber hackers who have created a series of Trojan bankers to emulate the application. When a user fills in their personal banking information, including account number and PIN, it transmits, shares and gives access to the hackers. It also opens the ability to send copies of any communications and actions so the cyber criminals can follow any and all actions that are occurring. The fact that the application is encrypted has made this one of the most difficult to track.

Whatsapp is another messaging service that has increased in popularity as an easy and quick way to replace standard SMS services. This is the very reason that it has become an attractive lure for cyberattacks via mobile phones. Whatsapp (parent company, Facebook), has planned a new end-to-end encryption process that will allow the send and receive information, but not the contents of the message.

According to internet security monitor The State of Security, “In the past year, we’ve seen a 2000% increase in evasive malware behavior. Evasive malware is designed to thwart traditional security technologies like first-generation sandboxes and signature-based gateways. Going forward, we will see the trend toward more sophisticated, aggressive and evasive behaviour in malware already observed.”

Sharon Knowles, CEO of Da Vinci Forensics says:

As South African companies join others around the globe with the increased number of employees working remotely, company email and messaging is another opportunity for unsuspecting staff to be open for malware and viruses. DaVinci Forensics examines all aspects of potential risk from an internal and external bearing, working to keep company data secured from malware and viruses.

The concept of a single source attack from cyber criminals has made a dramatic shift to any device that has internet access as well as SMS and email. The objectives of the hacking community has been escalated to every increasing levels of sophistication as they pursue both personal and company information and data. Internet and software providers are scrambling to address this newer face of attack in the cyber world as well as trying to prepare for the next phases. An important factor on this layer of the playing field will be to educate the individuals and corporate environments as a coordinated effort of awareness for their security protection. As the ‘internet of everything’ continues to escalate, there is a need to alter the approach to one of higher caution on all vertical fronts.

*** Sources***
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