This cloned WhatsApp may be spying on Indian users: Report

WhatsApp is one of the most used instant messaging apps globally, including India with over 390 million. Cybersecurity research firm ESET has released its latest threat report – T2 2022 Threat Report, according to which, GB WhatsApp – a cloned, third-party unofficial version of WhatsApp is spying on user’s chats in India. This cloned app is not available on Google Play Store though and is therefore available for download through websites only. In absence of any security checks, multiple versions of the app are available that are riddled with malware.

“WhatsApp is even temporarily banning accounts that use such unsupported apps and if these accounts continue to use them, they are permanently banned from accessing WhatsApp,” the report says

The report goes on to state that India is among the countries with highest number of Android trojan detections. For those unversed, a trojan agent is a malware that downloads onto a computer disguised as a legitimate program. It is difficult to immediately notice a trojan malware as it does not impact day-to-day performance of your phone.

According to the report, India ranked second after China (53 per cent) as the geolocation for bots making up the largest internet of things (IoT) botnet called ‘Mozi’ from May to August 2022. As per the report, Android threat detections continued to grow in T2 2022 by 9.5 per cent. The IoT botnet ‘Mozi’ saw the number of bots drop by 23 percent. The number dropped from 500,000 impacted devices to 383,000 in May-August.

“These statistics confirm the assumption that the ‘Mozi’ botnet is on autopilot, running without human supervision since its reputed author was arrested in 2021,” the report says. Russia was also the country that was most targeted by ransomware, with some of the attacks being politically or ideologically motivated by the war,” said Roman Kovac, Chief Research Officer at ESET.

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