Hackers are always researching and coming up with new ways to hit their target. This time, they have found a new way to steal bank details of users of popular chat app, WhatsApp.
Hackers, pretending to be from official sources, circulate files to their targets, and once opened, the dangerous files are capable of stealing personal information of users, reports the Express. Though, defense, paramilitary and police men and women are their main targets; users are warned to beware of such files sent in Excel format.
The virus is also being transmitted through Microsoft Word and PDF files, and is capable of stealing sensitive information such as online banking credentials and other personal details.
According to the report, hackers have so far only tested the techniques in India. As a matter of fact, the malicious files go by the names of the NDA (National Defence Academy) and NIA (National Investigation Agency) in attempt to lure WhatsApp users into downloading and opening the files.
The Financial Times reports that central security services in India have issued a notification to National Defense Academy and the National Investigation Agency, considering the fact that men in uniform are the main target of the hackers.
This should serve as a warning to WhatsApp users in other countries as the cybercriminals could extend their nefarious acts to more places. According to the Daily Mail, the two files are NDA-ranked-8th-toughest-College-in-the-world-to-get-into.xls’ and ‘NIA-selection-order-.xls”
The files are designed to look like they were sent from a reputable or official source—making their unsuspecting targets vulnerable to attack. In India, the both the NDA and the NIA are reputable military and defense agencies known by everyone.
Officials told Indian Express that:
“As these two organizations are very popular and known within the country and abroad and there is a curiosity to know more about them, it is possible that it may affect the mobile phones of people interested in these subjects. However, it has been analyzed that the men and women in defense, paramilitary and police forces could be the target groups.”
Concerned authorities have shared all necessary information with security forces in order to alert troops and officers against the virus. For now, the only thing a user can do to not become a victim of this attack is to avoid downloading files from unknown sources. It really doesn’t have to be Excel or Word or PDF files; it is important to ignore any file regardless of the source.
WhatsApp, with more than 1 billion users, was the most downloaded free iOS app in 2016. Last year, WhatsApp added a couple of highly-sought after features including, video calling, two-step verification [still being tested], animated GIFs, and a couple of others. It gets even better for the app as Apple recently announced that WhatsApp is the most downloaded free iOS app.
However, the chat app was heavily criticized by human right groups and the European Union for its plans to pass on users’ information to its parent company. This didn’t go down well with a lot of people who felt the company was going against an earlier promise not to do so.