Technology has changed the way we communicate forever. Instead of racking up huge long-distance phone bills to speak with friends who live thousands of miles away, we now just “friend” them on social media or chat in real-time through messenger apps.
While these are convenient ways to keep in touch, there are some drawbacks. The main problem is sites like Facebook don’t do a great job of protecting our privacy and don’t seem to care about it at all. Tap or click here to read about a recent data breach that left millions of Facebook accounts exposed.
Now, a popular messenger program is being targeted by hackers. Criminals have found a flaw that allows them to steal files from your computer.
What’s up with WhatsApp?
The insanely popular messaging app, WhatsApp, owned by Facebook of all companies, has a serious flaw that could let criminals hijack all the files on your computer.
The vulnerability was discovered by security researcher Gal Weizman and involves the platform on which WhatsApp is built.
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It’s a bit of a winding trail, but here’s how it goes: The flaw was actually discovered in the Chromium platform. Chromium is what the Electron platform is based on and Electron is what the WhatsApp desktop app is built on. Got it? It’s OK, you don’t need to follow the path, there won’t be a quiz later.
But, here’s what it means to you. The flaw allows a scammer to send you a malicious link inside a WhatsApp message and if you click on it, the criminal can access all of the files on your computer.
Imagine all of the important documents and files that you have stored on your computer — not good!
The good news is Weizman disclosed the vulnerability to WhatsApp and a patch has already been released.
How to protect your files
Since the discovery of the flaw, Facebook has released a patch that fixes it. It’s very important that you update your desktop app to make sure your files are protected.
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Oh, another thing. This vulnerability apparently doesn’t impact WhatsApp on your phone or tablet, just your desktop computer. And it doesn’t matter if you have a PC or Mac, both are at risk. So, here’s how to get the update.
Updating WhatsApp for PC
There are a couple of different ways you may have downloaded WhatsApp to your PC. You either got it from the Microsoft Store or directly from the WhatsApp website.
To update your app from the Microsoft Store, run a Get updates search for all the apps you’ve installed from the store. If you see a WhatsApp update, make sure to download it ASAP.
To update from the WhatsApp site, check for updates within the app. Or, you can simply delete the app and download the latest version from WhatsApp.com.
Updating WhatsApp for Mac
Just like with a PC, you can get the WhatsApp app in different ways for your Mac. Either from the Mac App Store or from the WhatsApp website.
To update your app from the Mac App Store, check for updates for all of the apps you’ve downloaded from there. If there is a WhatsApp update, download it ASAP.
To update your app from the WhatsApp site, check for updates within the app. Or, delete the app and download the latest version from WhatsApp.com.
That’s it, now you’re protected from this major security flaw. But what about the next security risk?
There are always new scams coming around, and being prepared is key. With threats like ransomware out there, it’s a good idea to have all of your files backed up. That way you won’t have to pay a hefty ransom to get your own files back.
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