A new scam is tricking users of WhatsApp into downloading a so-called exclusive version of the app called ‘WhatsApp Gold', which infects mobile devices with malware.
A number of WhatsApp users have reported receiving messages that urge them to sign up for the ‘premium' service through the WhatsApp Gold website, linked in the message. Users are urged not to click on the provided link from the message.
The upgrade to the ‘premium' version of the app claims to offer new features that are used by celebrities such as having video chats, sending 100 pictures at one and deleting messages after being sent. Users are then lured to click on a link to download the update, which actually takes them to a website containing malicious software. The malicious software will infect mobiles and possibly allow cyber-criminals to steal data and track a user's activity.
WhatsApp warns users that the malicious software can pass private information to third parties without their knowledge or consent. The company advises users to immediately uninstall the unauthorised app and wait 24 hours before using the real WhatsApp again.
“The problem with these types of scam is that they do not target the platform, but, instead, they target the user,” said Giovanni Vigna, co-founder and CTO at Lastline in emailed comments to SCMagazineUK.com. “As Google and Apple have deployed more secure phone operating systems and more strict checks in their markets, cyber-criminals have moved to social engineering attacks of all kinds. In addition to promises of ‘enhanced versions' of popular applications, we have seen applications simply trying to pose as different ones.”