If you use WhatsApp mod apps instead of the original WhatsApp app, you’re probably not alone. Given the massive popularity of WhatsApp around the world, plenty of third party app developers have marketed WhatsApp clones and mods. While a handful of them were useful in terms of adding new features to the overall WhatsApp experience, most of them are largely too risky to use. One such WhatsApp mod has turned out to be FMWhatsapp, according to a cyber security report by Kaspersky. According to the report, FMWhatsapp contains a trojan that can push illicit advertisements into your phone, force subscribe you to random services using saved payment methods, and alarmingly, also steal your messages, data and OTPs.
What makes matters worse is that FMWhatsapp is a fairly popular WhatsApp mod, and was actually a somewhat credible one in terms of its developer and its feature set. However, it also serves in-app ads to monetise its services, and one of its ad libraries contained the Triada trojan – a known and reported malware. Using FMWhatsapp as a platform, any malicious hacker can deploy the Triada trojan on to a user’s device. Once deployed, it first scans the user’s phone data and relays it back to the hacker’s remote server.
Once this data is surveyed, the Triada trojan via FMWhatsapp can then download further trojans. This can allow hackers to spam a user’s phone with illicit advertisements, and also deploy more adware and malware in the background that can force a user into unknowingly subscribing to services. It can also intercept SMS messages, and read all the data on a user’s WhatsApp conversations. As a result, the security consequences of such a WhatsApp mod can be quite severe.
Igor Golovin of Kaspersky, in commentary to the discovery of the Triada trojan in a popular WhatsApp mod, has a fairly simple but valuable advice – don’t use unofficial apps. He says, “It is hard for users to recognise the potential threat because the mod application actually does what is proposed – it adds additional features. However, we have observed how cybercriminals have started to spread malicious files through the ad blocks in such apps. That is why we recommend you only use messenger software downloaded from official app stores. They may lack some additional functions, but they will not install a bunch of malware on your smartphone.”
FMWhatsapp is most likely just one of thousands of WhatsApp mod apps in the market, many of which contain such breaches. These can steal your data to later blackmail you to extort money or other favours, and in certain cases, deploy ransomware as well. Users are therefore requested to stick to official download channels such as the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store, and only download official apps that are marketed by the respective companies.
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