8 May 2014

Users of mobile messaging app WhatsApp should be aware of scam ‘notification’ emails pretending to be from the popular service.

A number of different versions of the WhatsApp phishing email have been in circulation for some months.

Some earlier examples claimed that an ‘attached archive’ contains a photo of your friend, however, these attachments were malware. Other examples have included links which directed you to fraudulent pharmaceutical retail sites.

Most of the recent examples have tried to get you to click links in the email which take you to a website tailored to target the device or computer you are using. This could include attempts to download unwanted apps to your Android phone, capture your personal information, send unwanted SMSs, or install malware on your desktop PC.

The emails have typically focused on mobile users—Android, but could also possibly affect jailbroken iOS devices. 'Jailbreaking' is a process by which Apple's iOS is modified to remove restrictions, enabling unofficial apps to be installed.The emails can also affect desktop PCs.

WhatsApp does not require your email address, so any email ‘notifications’ should be treated as suspicious.

As always, you should be suspicious of any unsolicited emails.

Instead of clicking links in emails, you can access the app directly to check your messages.

Staying safe

Be suspicious of any messages you receive from unknown and untrusted sources.

Do not click on links or attachments in a message unless you are completely confident about its content.

You can always navigate to the original website or source yourself—independently of links in any message—to cross check its information.

If you are suspicious, simply delete the message.

More information

Security vendor Kaspersky recently identified high numbers of fake WhatsApp emails carrying malware as ‘photos from a friend.’

In September 2013, TrendMicro discussed how these hoax messages were particularly targeting mobile devices.

Antivirus vendor AVG has recently published a useful overview of how you can identify one of the most recent email examples as a scam.

WhatsApp has previously discussed other hoaxes on its blog.

Stay Smart Online has more information on avoiding online scams and managing spam.

You can report spam to ACMA.

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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