involved in scams Account theft and cloning No WhatsApp has increased in recent years. In 2020 alone, it is estimated that more than 5 million accounts have been cloned from the app in Brazil. Criminals are increasingly employing strategies to deceive their victims, but many fraud attempts rely on the direct assistance of an Internet user – even if he or she does not know it.
And scams like this are older than you think. A report released by the research lab of virtual security company Asset warned already in 2019 that one of the growing ways to hijack WhatsApp accounts is through an attack called QRLjacking.
The action leverages social engineering techniques to attack not only WhatsApp, but other applications that use a . make use of QR code (bar code development) For registration and use on a computer.
In the case of WhatsApp, the QR code is generated when the person accesses the app in a web browser or desktop version on the popular WhatsApp Web. When this code is scanned, the user can access his account on the computer.
According to Asset researchers, criminals attack through this function: Scammers convince victims (by phone, email, text messages) to scan a deceptive QR code, which instead of presenting the official page of WhatsApp as a fake Displays page that tries to hijack users’ WhatsApp sessions.
The research lab recalls that a QR code is an image that, once interpreted, may contain a URL or any other information that can be understood by the device.
Newer WhatsApp versions require a biometric or PIN unlock to validate a new session on another device. But older versions, which have not been updated by the user, use this code to grant access without any further verification. Knowing this peculiarity, cybercriminals took precautions: they developed tools that were able to capture and store the image of the QR code generated by WhatsApp and generate a new code of the same type to show it to the victim.
After the attack, the user’s session is stored on K’s computer. hacker And he can use it however he wants. Description: The “hijacking” of the account occurs without the use of the application cell phone The victim is compulsorily restrained.
Asset warns that similar attacks could occur on all apps that use QR codes.
how to protect yourself
The company suggests some actions that serve as tips to avoid account hijacking in this case:
- Use public or unknown Wi-Fi Internet networks as little as possible, as such attacks usually occur when cybercriminals are on the same network as their victims. If you need to use the Internet, avoid accessing information that is not absolutely necessary at the time.
- Learn about the apps you use and be suspicious if an ad asks you to scan a QR code in return for a profit or as part of a process beyond verification. In the case of WhatsApp, the code is used specifically to allow the use of the application on the computer.
- Don’t let yourself be fooled: even on networks considered secure, it’s always best practice to at least keep your eye on them to help prevent a variety of security incidents.
- Watch for App Feedback to Your Order: If you scan a code and don’t receive an action in response, be alert. If in doubt, go to the WhatsApp main screen, select the “WhatsApp Web” option and end all sessions started. This immediately reduces the access of criminals to the account.
- Keep security programs on your device running and up to date: Always set these mechanisms to block threats on both your smartphone and your computer.
*With information from Jaina Garcia’s article