Can you believe we're already in the year 2017? It seems just like yesterday that people were worried about the Y2K problem, aka the Millennium bug. Time really does fly!
We've moved beyond the Y2K scare and now we're onto more devious tech issues like ransomware and data breaches. Now, there is a scam going around involving a popular messaging app that you need to be aware of.
Some users of the WhatsApp messaging service have had their banking credentials stolen by hackers. Cybercriminals are sending a virus to WhatsApp customers disguised as legitimate-looking documents.
This isn't the first scam to hit WhatsApp customers. We warned in May 2016 about a fake upgrading scheme.
How the latest WhatsApp scam works
What's happening now is, hackers are sending malicious links in the form of Microsoft Excel or PDF files, or a Word document. If you click on the malicious link, the virus allows the scammer to steal your banking credentials, including PIN codes, and other personal information from your gadget.
The good news is that as of now this scam has been limited to one country. The malicious files are supposedly coming from official government agencies in India: the Indian National Defense Academy (NDA) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
I know, I know, you're thinking, if this is only in India, why should I care about this? Well, the truth is, this is a simple hack to replicate and has the potential to spread to other countries around the world. It's better to know about these scams ahead of time before they show up on your gadget.
If you use WhatsApp, here are a couple safety tips to avoid this type of scam:
- Be cautious with links - Excel, Word and PDF files can contain macro viruses. For your gadget to be infected, you need to download and open the malicious file. You should never download an attachment unless you were expecting it. If you weren't expecting an attachment file, but it came from someone you know, check with them before downloading it. If it's from someone you don't know, delete it. Legitimate companies don't normally send unsolicited messages with attachments.
- Don't turn on macros - The latest versions of Excel and Word have macros turned off by default, specifically to avoid viruses. If you open a file that includes macros, Excel or Word will ask if you want to turn macros on. Always click "No."