POPULAR messaging and phone call app WhatsApp has urged 1.5 billion users to install a new update after fears over a ‘targeted’ hack on its software.
The company warned the app contained a vulnerability which had allegedly allowed attackers to install Israeli surveillance spyware onto users’ phones.
According to the communications giant, hackers installed the spyware by placing a phone call to phones through the app, with the virus being updated even if a user did not answer the call.
A record of the call also often disappeared from phone’s log, according to WhatsApp.
The company said the attack bears the hallmarks of spyware developed by intelligence agencies, and warned the hack could have been the result of attempts to access the phones of human rights campaigners, including one UK lawyer.
A representative for WhatsApp said: “This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems.”
WhatsApp users are now being urged to install the app’s latest update to protect against future hack attempts.