A GAPING WhatsApp flaw allows hackers to crash your app just by sending you a text.
The shocking bug is so serious that users are forced to completely reinstall WhatsApp to fix the issue – and their group chats disappear forever.
It was uncovered by cyber-experts at security firm Check Point, who said one text can crash multiple phones in one go.
“The impact of this vulnerability is potentially tremendous since WhatsApp is the main communication service for many people,” Check Point researchers explained.
“Thus, the bug compromises the availability of the app which is crucial for our daily activities.”
WhatsApp is the world’s most popular chat app, with more than 1.5billion users and over a billion groups.
As many as 65billion messages are sent via WhatsApp every day, so bugs in the app can seriously affect huge numbers of people.
Hackers can exploit the bug by sending a destructive group chat message.
This instantly crashes the app for everyone in the group and will require you to uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp.
When you’ve reinstalled the app, you’ll be unable to return to the group chat or access its chat history.
When a user sends messages inside a group, the app examines their data to identify who sent the message.
Check Point created a tool that could access this data and edit it, replacing it with a message that causes the app to crash.
“The bug will crash the app and it will continue to crash even after we reopen WhatsApp, resulting in a crash loop,” Check Point explained.
“Moreover, the user will not be able to return to the group and all the data that was written and shared in the group is now gone for good.
“The group cannot be restored after the crash has happened and will have to be deleted in order to stop the crash.”
How to avoid WhatsApp text bug
WhatsApp has already issued a fix for the bug, but you’ll need to update the app to make sure you’re safe.
If you’ve updated WhatsApp to the latest version, it’s impossible for anyone to attack your phone using this exploit.
“WhatsApp greatly values the work of the technology community to help us maintain strong security for our users globally,” said WhatsApp Software Engineer Ehren Kret, in a statement sent to The Sun.
“Thanks to the responsible submission from Check Point to our bug bounty program, we quickly resolved this issue for all WhatsApp apps in mid-September.
“We have also recently added new controls to prevent people from being added to unwanted groups to avoid communication with untrusted parties altogether.”
The bug is made possible by exploiting how WhatsApp group chats work.