Research from security experts, Malwarebytes, has revealed that a fake version of Facebook-owned app, Whatsapp, can steal sensitive user data.
The bogus app, Whatsapp plus, is said not to be found on the official Google Play Store or Apple App Store, but is circulated on blogs and forums online.
According to Malwarebytes,when users install and load it up they are greeted with a gold WhatsApp logo and the option to ‘agree’ to terms and conditions and ‘continue’.
But once that green button is pressed they are told that the WhatsApp version they are trying to install is out of date.
They are told to either “go to Google Play Store to download latest version” or press a download button.
However, once they press the ‘download’ button users are taken to a webpage written entirely in Arabic.
Malwarebytes said the fake WhatsApp claims to offer features such as running four WhatsApp accounts and hiding ‘typing message’ notifications.
It can also allegedly hide double ticks and blue ‘read’ ticks as well. However, instead of doing that, the app is capable of stealing users’personal information like their mobile number, name and even sent or received media.
In a blog post, Malwarebytes said: “The incriminating code of Android/PUP.Riskware.Wtaspin.GB is within receivers, services, and activities starting with com.gb.atnfas. This code is in various fake WhatsApp APKs.
The only difference of the aforementioned version from above is the code points to the Arabic webpage to update.
“After analyzing several different versions of PUP.Riskware.Wtaspin.GB, it appears all have different URLs from which to update.
“Thus, everyone is just copy catting the original source code and adding their own “update” website. So, who is the original author of this riskware? Is the Arabic developer, Abu, the originating author?
“The code of this riskware is complex. The webpage of the developer claiming to be owner—not so complex. Although I won’t completely rule out the possibility, let’s just say I am skeptical.
“No matter the true author or origin of this fake Whatsapp, I suggest sticking with the real WhatsApp on Google Play. Although Google Play has its faults, it’s tremendously safer than some of the sources I came across researching this riskware.
The Daily Times recalls that Express.co.uk last month revealed that users of the chat app were being warned about a new scam which could try and trick them into handing over personal details.