WhatsApp users have been warned about a new strain of malware that has the ability to tap into your app and steal your messages. The new cyber bug – known as Skygofree – can secretly monitor your conversations and copy your private messages without your approval.
Considering the app is used by over 1.3 billion people around the world, this malware has the potential to pose a huge security risk to everyone. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and is one of the most popuiar messaging apps around: on New Year’s Eve 2017 alone, there were over 75 billion messages sent around the globe via the service.
Cybersecurity experts Kaspersky Lab discovered Skygofree and described it as “one of the most powerful spyware tools that we have ever seen”. The virus attacks vulnerable Android devices and gains access to your WhatsApp messages via Accessibility Services.
If an infected device is in a specific location, the virus can trigger your phones microphone and record what people are saying, too. Despite the name, the virus has nothing to do with broadcaster Sky, or its similarly-named Sky Go app, Kaspersky has confirmed.
Kaspersky has issued a statement about the virus it discovered: “The Skygofree Android implant is one of the most powerful spyware tools that we have ever seen for this platform. “As a result of the long-term development process, there are multiple, exceptional capabilities: usage of multiple exploits for gaining root privileges, a complex payload structure, never-before-seen surveillance features such as recording surrounding audio in specified locations.”
According to Kaspersky Lab, Skygofree was created at least three years ago, and since then the malware has been spread via websites operated by cyber attackers. Kaspersky Lab believes the virus has spread from Italy, and that is where the majority of infected devices have been located.
There are suggestions that the spyware was developed by Negg International, an Italian cybersecurity company. It sets a worrying trend for phone users as spyware becomes more sophisticated and more focused on mobile devices. You can check the Kaspersky statement to find out if your phone has been compromised by the virus.
This comes after rumours about the next stage in WhatsApp’s evolution have begun to spread around the internet. Despite the app being used for 75 billion messages on New Year’s Eve, a lot of people often forget that it’s also pretty handy for video chat.
In fact, WhatsApp calls have become so crucial to the popular messaging app, that the platform has over 100 million calls made per day. As with every year, there’s always plenty of rumours about how the platform could be evolving and what new features it could be rolling out.
But for months, it’s been rumoured that the company has been working on releasing a big update to the app’s video chat feature. And now we might finally have seen our first evidence of this upcoming change as part of a beta update released this week.
Reportedly, WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that introduces a brand new video call switch button. This may only seem like a subtle change to the platform, but it’s one that could have a big impact on how people use the app and encourage more users to use video instead of voice calls.
The new feature was first spotted by WABetaInfo, however, they say that this is only available at the moment to people signed up to the WhatsApp beta version. Apparently, the button will send a request to the person you’re talking to, asking if they want to switch to a video call.
However, what makes this feature all the more clever, is that if the recipient declines the video call, the voice call will continue without any problems. Ostensibly, the new feature means no one will ever have to hang up during a voice call to only then switch to a video call with the same person.
The feature is only available for the time being with one-to-one calls and won’t work for group calls. However, Trusted Reviews suspects that “over time such a feature could make it into WhatsApp”, especially with smartphone screen sizes which are big enough to support a split screen.