An Italian spyware vendor accused of creating fake WhatsApp version for iPhone.
Why would someone create a fake WhatsApp for iPhones? In this day and age it’s quite clear that data is quite important and possibly a goldmine for hackers. An Italian surveillance company named Cy4Gate targeted specific individuals and had plans of tricking them into installing certain configuration files on the iPhone. The data that they would obtain would include the Unique Device Identifier (UDID) as well as the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI).
Not too long ago WhatsApp had been attacked by an Israeli spyware group that targeted journalists and human right activists in global regions including India.
How was the fake WhatsApp discovered?
A research lab in at the University of Torono took action after security company ZexOps tweeted about the detection of attacks against users on the instant messaging app. When the cybersecurity research lab worked with motherboard to find the fake version they found a site with domain config5-dati[.]com that was tricking visitors to install the fake app that was actually a special configuration file for the iPhone Motherboard reported. It appeared to have been designed to gather information about the victims and send it back to the hackers.
The site had credible branding and professional graphics that seemed quite believable for most people who had been tricked.
A WhatsApp spokesman assured action against the fake version:
“We strongly oppose abuse from spyware companies, regardless of their clientele. Modifying WhatsApp to harm others violates our terms of service. We have and will continue to take action against such abuse, including in court,”
They further added:
“To help keep chats safe, we recommend that people download WhatsApp from the app store for their phone’s platform. In addition, we may temporarily ban people using modified WhatsApp clients we detect to help encourage people to download WhatsApp from an authoritative source,”
So in case you’re an iPhone user it’s best to avoid downloading any new version of WhatsApp.