WhatsApp's cloning crime has already hit 8.5 million Brazilians, according to a survey by security application developer PSafe. The survey shows that every day 23 people are victims of this type of scam across the country. Leaking private conversations, sending malicious links to other contacts, and soliciting money from friends are among the main harms brought about by cloning the messenger.
Although not indicated, the scam has gained prominence this year in Brazil due to the numerous reports of users who were victims of cybercriminals. In the first half of 2019 alone, over 134,000 attempts to steal WhatsApp were recorded. These unknown assets on WhatsApp Web and suspicious account activity may be indications that the messenger is being cloned.
Fake apps fool eight million people; know how to avoid
About 8.5 million Brazilians have already been WhatsApp cloning victims nationwide Photo: Anna Kellen Bull / dnetc
Want to buy a cell phone, TV and other discounted products? Meet the Compare dnetc
"To clone a WhatsApp account, the cybercriminal improperly registers the user's phone number on another device and, after that process, an SMS containing an access release code sent to the victim's cell phone. She is then induced to provide that code. the hacker and then his WhatsApp account is blocked, "explains Emilio Simoni, director of dfndr lab, PSafe's cybersecurity lab.
By having free access to a user's WhatsApp, the hacker can use the content of the messages to blackmail the victim in exchange for money. According to the survey, 26.7% of respondents pointed to the leak of private conversations as the main detriment of WhatsApp cloning.
It is also common for the intruder to impersonate the victim to scam his friends and family. Still according to the survey, sending links with scams to other contacts accounts for 26.6% of damage, followed by requests for money from friends (18.2%), loss of WhatsApp account (18.0%) and blackmail (10.5%).
PSafe warns that the user should never inform WhatsApp access release code to third parties. It is also important to enable 2-step verification to enhance account security and avoid connecting your phone to unknown Wi-Fi networks. If possible, install an application to password protect the messenger.
WhatsApp: Five Tips for Using the App Safely