Cyber criminals are now cashing on the rising popularity of encrypted messaging application WhatsApp. Warning of threats due to WhatsApp hacking, the Maharashtra cyber unit, said that such accounts are used to blackmail and extort money. The nodal agency for cybersecurity and cybercrime investigation in Maharashtra alerted the user by explaining the modus-operandi of such attacks.
Sharing the post on Tweeter, Maharashtra cyber said that after gaining access to a victim’s WhatsApp number, cyber criminals blackmail their target by threatening to send obscene images to their contacts or groups. Law enforcement officers said that there have been several instances wherein the hacker posts photos involving nudity on WhatsApp groups that the victim is a member of. In some cases, these fraudsters misused the hacked account to ask money from people who are in frequent contact with the victim.
— Maharashtra Cyber (@MahaCyber1) August 22, 2020
These attacks are made when a WhatsApp user changes their phone, he/she will have to verify that the new device is linked to his/her mobile number. This is done through WhatsApp verification code. The hacker knows the user’s mobile number and this whole series of attacks begins with the victim shares his WhatsApp verification code, he allows the hacker to gain access to his account.
Once the victim’s account is hacked, the cyber criminal gets access to all his contacts as well as groups. A chain reaction begins after this.
Such cases of crime have been reported in other states as well where criminals have extorted money by hacking WhatsApp.
Cyber investigators and experts advise people not to share their WhatsApp verification code with anyone. If you share the verification code, then immediately re-verify your WhatsApp account. Further, users are also advised to activate ‘two-step verification’ for enhancing the security of their WhatsApp accounts and do not open links sent by unknown people.