New hoax on WhatsApp: in the center the video "Argentina is doing it" , in which the South American country would be seen defeating the coronavirus. The real news, however, does not concern the (fake) content of the video, but the alleged virus linked to it that would violate the mobile phone in less than 10 seconds.
A completely false warning message: the video in question doesn't even exist . However, the news has been circulating for days and there are not a few people who have complained of having received this warning.
WhatsApp has been the preferred vehicle for circulating fake news and scare users for years. The sharing is immediate and so is the spread: with a simple "forward" it is possible to share messages with all the contacts in the address book.
Argentina, the coronavirus and the hoax on WhatsApp
The hoax of the video on WhatsApp hacking the smartphone is not new: the message appeared last spring, during the lockdown, and is now back in charge . By exploiting the subject of the alleged video it is again managing to generate panic among less experienced users, despite having already been exposed once.
The text of the message, translated from the original Spanish, reads as follows:
“ Attention !!!!! They will upload a video to WhatsApp that shows how our curve is flattening out in Argentina. The file is called “Argentina is doing it”, don't open or view it, it hacks your phone in 10 seconds and cannot be stopped in any way. Pass the information on to family and friends. DO NOT OPEN…… Now they also said it on TV “.
The news was translated into several languages and also shared on Twitter and Facebook, thus facilitating its dissemination.
As of last April there is no evidence that this dangerous video exists, nor has anyone ever reported having received it. The Argentine prosecutor of the Specialized Cyber Crime Tax Unit , Horacio Azzolin, had already denied the existence of the attack , confirming that there was no video. The same had received the message and had promptly declared that it was a fake. He had reported to the newspaper that contacted him that "if an application compromises the phone it does it immediately, not after 10 seconds".
WhatsApp and bugs: a long story
We have seen many attacks on WhatsApp and bugs in the application. The most recent, linked to a privacy issue, exposed 300,000 clear numbers on Google , although in this case the company had stated that it was not a bug.
2019 was an unlucky year for the messaging app: in May a vulnerability was discovered that allowed spyware to run, exploiting the buffer overflow . In August, a group of cyber security experts identified a flaw that allowed them to manipulate messages exchanged in chat , pretending to be a trusted contact, going so far as to falsify an entire conversation. Finally, in October a vulnerability inherent in an open source library used by the application gallery was disclosed. In this case it was possible, through a GIF, to infect the application code and run spyware .
It is therefore reasonable to think that there may be vulnerabilities related to media sharing on chats. The virality of Argentina's video arises precisely from the apparent truthfulness that arises from a superficial reading of the message.
Spam and phishing on WhatsApp
We have all at least once received a message from a spam or phishing chain. Most of the messages aim to deceive the user and lead him to perform a certain action that is to his detriment, but to the attacker's gain.
Then there is a part of the messages created only to generate alarmism and fears. The case of the video of Argentina falls precisely into this category. The message contains some of the key characteristics of the hoax chains : the request to forward it to as many people as possible, a vague description of the danger and a sentence (not always verifiable) on the authenticity of the information (eg: "they said it on TV "). If for many, however, the falsity of the news is obvious, for as many people it is not so obvious, especially for the less practical and informed.
While there is no real threat, these messages generate unnecessary alarmism, causing fear and creating confusion . Despite the non-existent video, the advice not to open links or media from unknown contacts, as they could hide real attacks, remains valid.
The article "Argentina is doing it": the new WhatsApp hoax on coronavirus comes from TechCuE .