Whatsapp has risen to become one of the most popular, hence most used, mobile messaging platform: it has one billion users worldwide.
Naturally so, Whatsapp’s “celebrity status” has attracted and drawn close all sorts of crowds. One of these are fraudsters, the Web’s scum that scams.
The attackers would send genuine links’ lookalikes through already active conversations with existing, listed contacts. Users are tricked to click on the links which generally promise vouchers and discounts for places such as Zara or Starbucks.
The messages sent by a known contact may not have raised suspects. Scammers orchestrated the plan so that messages received by unaware victims would have innocently just read “Look” and displayed a link to a fake website. Once the user was to click on it, he/she would have been required to complete a form, some sort of a survey, before he/she could have claimed the vouchers for discounts at the famous clothing and coffee chains.
The contagion rate caused by the dangerous spread of the malware, in this case, could be truly exponentially high since, as part of the scam, users are requested to forward the same message to 10 other people amongst their contacts so that, in turn, they will be required to fill the survey in order to benefit from a certain offer. And so on and so forth in a vicious chain.
The diffusion of a virus via Whatsapp is also in the hands of the fraudsters and this happens when users provide few personal details, such as name, email, address and phone number, and then scammers take it from there: they usually proceed to install malware on the victim’s phone. One of the most recent attacks involved a type of Trojan spread around to try and hijack victims’ banking transactions managed via mobile.
The element of novelty brought about by these new scams is that it can certainly apply to a wide audience. In fact, considering that Whatsapp is mainly used in India and Europe, scammers had to adapt and customize their “language settings” in order to target the right audience and not get caught.
Kaspersky Lab – a UK-based Internet security provider – highlighted how the number of Whatsapp frauds is unstoppably rising. Only last month Android users reported a malware attack hidden behind a fake – but legitimate-looking- update request. Victims’ data were stolen.
What seems certain in these ingenious attacks is that fraudsters are fearlessly showcasing their marketing abilities where they draw masses of unsuspecting users into clicking on creative and compelling ads with the only purpose of spreading data-stealing malware.
Way to go, scammers!