World

WhatsApp security breach may have targeted human rights groups

15 May 2019 - 32   - 0

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - WhatsApp said on Tuesday that a security breach on its messaging app had signs of coming from a government using surveillance technology developed by a private company, and it may have targeted human rights groups.

WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, said it had notified the U.S. Department of Justice to help with an investigation, and it encouraged all WhatsApp users to update to the latest version of the app, where the breach had been fixed.

WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging tools, is used by 1.5 billion people monthly. It has touted its high level of security and privacy, with messages on its platform being encrypted end-to-end so that WhatsApp and third parties cannot read or listen to them.

The company said it was still investigating the breach but believed only a “select number of users were targeted through this vulnerability by an advanced cyber actor.”

WhatsApp said its advice to all users to update came “out of an abundance of caution” and a recommendation by Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto that it notified about the vulnerability before the announcement.

It did not disclose how many users were affected. A technical advisory published on Facebook’s security website said the vulnerability affected both Android and iPhones.

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