The leak allowed remote access to a vulnerable smartphone. This was possible with the help of a special MP4 video file. Hackers could send the video via WhatsApp and if the video was downloaded – something that can happen automatically in WhatsApp – the user would run the risk of being hacked. Cybercriminals could in that case, for example, gain access to files stored in the app, such as messages, photos or videos.
WhatsApp already rolled out an update to close the leak. According to parent company Facebook, there are no indications that the attack was also used ‘in the wild’. That means that no known users were effectively affected by the hack. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to check whether you have the latest version of the app on your smartphone and to update it if necessary. After all, if you do not stay vulnerable.
You can check which version of WhatsApp you have on your phone in the Google Play Store on Android or the App Store on iOS. If an update is available, it is best to implement it immediately.
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Turn off the automatic download
As a precaution, you can also choose to never automatically download images and videos in the future. You can determine that yourself in the app settings. Go to the settings of the WhatsApp and tap on ‘Data and storage usage’. Under ‘Automatically download media’ you will see three headings: ‘When using mobile network’, ‘When connected to Wi-Fi’ and ‘During roaming’. Tap each cup and make sure that all options are unchecked.