Cybersecurity | hackers | Thefts by WhatsApp | WhatsApp: the most common (and dangerous) scams that we can suffer when opening any link | Argentinian | Colombia | Spain | Mexico | USA | | TECHNOLOGY

With over 2 billion users worldwide, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know about WhatsApp. Being one of the applications with the most downloads globally, it is also positioned as an attractive tool for users. cyber criminalswho do not hesitate to take advantage of this means to harm.

According to cybersecurity experts, there are several ways to scam people using WhatsApp. We have techniques that induce people to enter their private data on suspicious links (surveys, for example), download fraudulent applications, etc.

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In this sense, such daily actions as answering messages from unknown people or opening links with supposed offers can end in theft or kidnapping of accounts, bank cards or sensitive information stored on the cell phone.

In numerical terms, a Kaspersky report revealed that most of the malicious links detected between December 2020 and May 2021 from a group of Kaspersky users were sent via WhatsApp (89.6%), followed by Telegram (5.6%) and Viber (4.7%).). From that same investigation, the company revealed that there were 91,242 cases of phishing around the world in instant messaging applications.

(Photo: AFP/AP)
(Photo: AFP/AP)

To know more about the subject, Trade contacted cybersecurity firms Kaspersky and ESETwho through their spokespersons explained to us how cybercriminals work and the most recurrent techniques to deceive through WhatsApp.

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The most common forms of cheating on WhatsApp

WhatsApp was launched in 2009 and has since added billions of downloads worldwide. Until last year, according to the 2021 Digital Report prepared by Hootsuite and We Are Social, a total of over 2 billion users on WhatsApp and it is expected that by 2027 exceed 3,000 million.

In other words, there is a large public that is at the mercy of cyber attacks.

There is a wide variety of scams circulating on WhatsApp. However, they all have in common the fact that they use social engineering”, precise Camilo Gutiérrez, head of the ESET Latin America laboratory, in dialogue with Trade.

In this sense, the expert details that the most frequent deceptions are the following:

  • Fake anniversary of a brand
  • False economic aid
  • Random hoaxes to obtain personal data
  • Whatsapp spy tools
  • WhatsApp account hijacking
  • Phishing Scams
  • Fake updates with new features
  • Malware distribution through the app
WhatsApp is one of the most popular applications in the world and also a means for cybercriminals to steal information.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular applications in the world and also a means for cybercriminals to steal information. / Chesnot

And how do they do it? In these cases, cybercriminals pose as companies or other people, contact their potential victims through WhatsApp (or other similar apps) and ask them to download fraudulent files or click on suspicious links to enter their data. With this they can hijack the information and then ask for ransoms.

Another example is account theft (‘account takeover‘). In this case, the victim unknowingly downloads malware that spies on the messages that arrive on their phone. After that, hackers will install WhatsApp on a new device and steal the activation code via SMS to request a payment from friends and family.

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The main objective of cybercriminals, how could it be otherwise, is the money theftcybersecurity experts noted.

What cybercriminals are looking for is that victims enter their information on a fake web page, download malicious codes and with this get to obtain an economic gaincommented to this Daily ESET spokesperson.

WhatsApp is an instant messaging application.  (Photo: Getty Images)
WhatsApp is an instant messaging application. (Photo: Getty Images)

Social engineering at the heart of WhatsApp deception

Also, experts highlight the social engineeringa concept consisting of trying to get other people to do the things you want them to do through psychological manipulation.

In the context of cybercrime, social engineering is widely described as a non-technical method used by cybercriminals to obtain information, conduct fraud, or gain illegitimate access to victim computerss”, added the ESET expert. “Social engineering is based on human interaction and is driven by people who use deception in order to violate security procedures”.

Cybercriminal organizations could use WhatsApp to steal data.  (Photo: Getty Images)
Cybercriminal organizations could use WhatsApp to steal data. (Photo: Getty Images)

This can be exemplified when cybercriminals lure us through false promises to complete surveys and give out private information, or download strange files that include malware.

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What can we do to avoid falling into these traps? Protection against social engineering begins with education; users need to learn never to click on suspicious links and always protect their login credentialseven in the office and at home”, explained Fabio Assolini, director of the Global Research and Analysis Team for Latin America at Kaspersky.

Stay tuned and check the links: tips to avoid falling for WhatsApp scams

One of the first recommendations of the experts is recognize that WhatsApp scams existas they point out that today there are a large number of people who do not believe that they can be victims of these attacks and trust the links that reach them in their messages.

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In addition to this, a tip that serves to avoid falling into scams is check that there are no spelling errors or other irregularities in the names, positions or linksas some cyber criminals pose as other companies.

Woman writing from cell phone by WhatsApp.  (Image: Pixabay)
Woman writing from cell phone by WhatsApp. (Image: Pixabay)

Another strategy used to spread these fraudulent links is ‘chains’, a common practice in which a Scammer asks a user to share the malicious link with their contacts. If this message is from someone you know, the chances are very high that someone will click on that link. Therefore, avoid sharing strings or clicking on these links.the Kaspersky expert suggested.

Finally, have the operating system and applications updated It will help us to have greater control of the applications on our cell phone.

The idea is not to live in a state of paranoia, but generate some awareness to be able to use technology safely”, explained the head of the ESET Latin America laboratory.

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