Chinese hackers targeting WhatsApp to steal data, Indian Army warns users

The Indian Army has warned citizens against Chinese hackers, who are now apparently targeting Indians through WhatsApp. China is using messaging service WhatsApp to hack the phones of Indian users.The military urged users to save contacts by name, check all WhatsApp groups and to be wary of unknown numbers.

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Chinese hackers targeting WhatsApp to steal data, Indian Army warns users

In a tweet posted by the official Twitter account of the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of Ministry of Defence, the Indian Army has warned the citizens of the Chinese hackers’ attempts to steal data through WhatsApp. 

Considering that there are more than 200 million or 20 crore WhatsApp users in India, this advisory should be considered as a serious warning. India’s diplomatic ties with China have been tense lately, and as per the Indian Army, the Chinese have now entered a new battle turf – WhatsApp. 

Chinese companies have a major hold on the Indian IT industry, worth about $22bn, which the government feels can be misused.

How will these hackers breach your data?

The Chinese use all kinds of platforms to penetrate your digital world. WhatsApp groups are a new way of hacking into your system.

One of their latest styles of attack is barging into WhatsApp groups and then extracting data of users on that group.

For this, the Chinese are using mobile numbers beginning with +86.

Recently, a UK-based software engineer reported OnePlus is illegally accessing and stealing user data.

Directorate General of Public Information released a video detailing the alleged risks.

The video by the ADG-PI

Can WhatsApp Groups Be Hacked?

But, the question is, is hacking WhatsApp group really possible and if so then how?

Yes, Indian Army is absolutely correct in their assessment regarding the hacking of WhatsApp groups and the biggest drawback is the major security flaw in the backend of WhatsApp.

We all get the proof regarding the drawback of its security when the WhatsApp famous feature ‘Delete for Everyone’ came out with major flaws recently.

As per the researchers from Ruhr University in Germany had found out that a major security flaw in the backend of WhatsApp allows hackers to take control of WhatsApp groups, and then steal information, data from the participants of the group chat.

Paul Rösler, one of the researchers who wrote the research paper stated that in order to hack WhatsApp group, the hacker will need to take control of the WhatsApp server, which seems highly unlikely, but not impossible.

Paul had said, “The confidentiality of the group is broken as soon as the uninvited member can obtain all the new messages and read them,”

Once a new member joins a WhatsApp group, all participants of the group share their encryption keys with the new member, which leaves a huge doorway open for exploitation.

How can you keep yourself safe?

# The video goes on to offer advice on how to prevent such potential attacks.

# Save all contacts in a WhatsApp group on your phone with proper names, so they are identifiable.

# Users should conduct regular audits of their groups.

# Be on the lookout for unknown numbers entering WhatsApp groups.

# In case you change your number, inform the group admin immediately.

# Also make sure to deactivate WhatsApp before destroying the previous SIM completely.

What are the alerts for army personnel?

The Government at regular intervals keeps issuing such advisories to the personnel of Armed forces, including the Army, Navy, and IAF, regarding the perils of smartphones and refrain from mentioning the deployment of personnel in social media.

However, this is not the first time that the Indian Army has warned about the risk of online espionage conducted by the Chinese.

Back in November last year, Indian Army had also asked its soldiers at the Indo-China border to delete around 42 apps developed by Chinese firms and uninstall many applications and then format their smartphones to minimize security risks to prevent their phones getting hacked by the Chinese.

Moreover, popular apps like WeChat, Truecaller, Weibo, UC Browser and UC News were banned with immediate effect for officials, as they were deemed a serious security threat.

This followed inputs that foreign intelligence agencies, especially those in Beijing and Islamabad, are using them to steal data from smartphones.”Use of these apps by our personnel can be detrimental to national security,” as per the report.

Notably

Recently, the government sent notices to 21 smartphone makers including Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and Gionee for allegedly stealing users’ personal information.

However, this is the first time that the Army has given a general alert to people all over the country regarding the threat faced by Chinese hackers.  

So, users play safe with your WhatsApp and all other social media apps. Don’t share your Password of any apps and for better safety always log out after its usage. JAI HIND!!!

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