How the theft of WhatsApp accounts works and what to do to avoid it

WhatsApp has become one of the favorite applications of criminals to carry out crimes of identity theft and extortion. This new form of crime is part of the adaptation of criminals to the use of new technologies through which they can achieve a greater number of victims.

Dmitry Bestuzhev, director for Latin America of the firm Kaspersky, points out that during the last year they have observed a increase of more than 120% in the number of account theft and WhatsApp occupies the first position of the ranking.

“It’s all about social engineering. It is enough for a criminal to know our telephone number for the impersonation and extortion to start, ”says Bestuzhev.

To accomplish the crime criminals make use of a practice known as SIM swapping. This consists of cloning the phone number associated with a WhatsApp account to later try to scam that person’s contacts.

To clone the number, it is only necessary for the victim’s phone to stop having coverage for a few minutes for the attacker to take control of the device and get their personal information.

To take a dimension of the scale of this type of crime, it is necessary to take into consideration that WhatsApp is the most downloaded messaging application in the world and has more than 2,000 million users.

Security Recommendations

There are strategies that, although they do not totally mitigate the possibility of being a victim of this type of crime, can help to avoid it. One of these recommendations consists of activate the two-step verification included in the application itself.

This allows criminals to be unable to access your account in the event that your password is compromised, since for this they require a second password that is sent to your cell phone by the application.

Another element to take into account is avoid entering links sent in group chats as these can compromise the security of the computer by downloading or installing applications that steal personal data.

“You have to know that WhatsApp is not a secure platform, although many think so, it is best not to share sensitive information”, recalls Dmitry Bestuzhev

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