Cyber-challenge: messenger service clones

English Section / 6 februarie

Cyber-challenge: messenger service clones

Versiunea în limba română

The inventiveness of cybercriminals knows no bounds. Without careful attention one can hardly tell the difference between what is true and what is false, and any error can be very costly. Clones of WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal are a popular vehicle for distributing malware, experts warn. Phil Muncaster, Eset expert explained: "Mobile applications have become an integral part of our daily lives, revolutionizing the way we communicate, work and play. Messaging services are among the most popular applications, both on iOS , as well as on Android. The American non-profit organization Signal has about 40 million users, and Telegram, another open-source messaging service, has 700 million users. Meanwhile, WhatsApp, owned by Meta, is the leader undisputed worldwide, with an estimated two billion monthly active users. But their popularity has also attracted the attention of threat actors, eager to find a way to sneak malware onto your device. This could cost you dearly and it could even affect your employing company. Malicious code developers have become quite adept at tricking users into downloading their products." The specialist warns that hackers launch malicious apps designed to mimic legitimate ones, then distribute them via phishing messages, email, SMS, social networks or messaging apps themselves, "leading the victim on a web page used for phishing and convincing them to install what they believe to be an official application". In addition, cybercriminals direct users to legitimate-looking fake apps that can occasionally bypass the Google Play app store's strict verification procedures. "Apple's iOS platform has a much more closed ecosystem, and it is much less likely that malicious applications will get there," the quoted source said. Eset analysts discovered a fake update campaign in 2021 that spread to WhatsApp, Signal and other messaging apps through phishing messages that claimed the recipient could get a new color theme for WhatsApp. In reality, this was a malware trojan that automatically spread a malicious link through messages received in WhatsApp and other messaging applications. Dozens of other websites also copied WhatsApp and Telegram and promoted malicious messaging apps known as "clippers" (apps designed to steal information or change the contents of a device's clipboard). In this way, victims were first lured by Google ads leading to fraudulent YouTube channels, which then redirected them to the copied websites. Once installed, the apps intercepted victims' chat messages in an attempt to steal sensitive information and cryptocurrency funds. Against this background of cyber threats on messaging applications, Eset representatives recommend several measures that can be implemented to reduce the chances of installing a malicious application on your own device. Thus, among these are: always accessing official Android application stores, updating the operating system and device software to the latest version, not accessing links or documents attached in unsolicited messages received on social networks or in e-mails, caution before giving an app permissions that don't seem to be related to its functionality, using a security solution from a trusted vendor, being able to use biometric authentication instead of simple passwords.

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