Govt Advises to Avoid WhatsApp After Israeli Company Hacks Multiple Pakistani Users
After the NSO Group’s (an Israeli cybersecurity firm) alleged attack on WhatsApp, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology has barred higher Pakistani officials from sharing any government documents over the Facebook-owned platform.
The debate about WhatsApp’s security being compromised started back in May this year. WhatsApp has a buffer overflow weakness that allowed the NSO Group to plant spyware in more than 1400 devices, out of which some were allegedly from Pakistan.
On 29th October, Facebook filed a lawsuit against the NSO group claiming that the cybersecurity firm sold a hacking platform in several countries (Pakistan included). The platform exploited WhatsApp’s buffer overflow flaw and helped clients hack into cellphones between a timeframe ranging from April 29, 2019, and May 10, 2019.
As a result, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology issued a letter dated 8th November 2019, asking higher officials to not use WhatsApp for official communications.
The ministry has asked the officials to:
- Not share classified or official information over the platform.
- Upgrade their WhatsApp to the latest version which fixes the buffer overflow issue.
- Replace their smartphones in case they were bought before 10th May 2019.
Just a week ago, a similar advisory was issued by the Indian army which mentions that there have been instances where information was lost through social media, which shows the negligence of army personnel.