WhatsApp claims it had informed Govt about spyware in May and September

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 07, 2019


Countering IT Ministry's stand that it was not informed about the spyware, WhatsApp has responded that it had raised the flag on two separate occasions first in May and then in September.

According to top sources aware of the communications on the issue, the American messaging company had first informed The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) on May 17 about the vulnerability. The CERT-In had also given this vulnerability a high severity level.

However, the key question still remains who authorised the spyware to be used to snoop into specific Indian citizens. The IT Ministry had asked WhatsApp to give a report after it was revealed that some civil rights activists and journalists were put under surveillance through a spyware developed by Israeli-based NSO Group. The NSO Group has maintained that it gives its technology only to Governments. But the Indian government has not said if it had authorised the surveillance.

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"WhatsApp provides industry leading end-to-end encryption to help protect user privacy and security. In May, our security team caught and stopped a cyber attack designed to send malware to mobile devices. Unable to break end-to-end encryption, this kind of malware abuses vulnerabilities within the underlying operating systems that power our mobile phones," said a WhatsApp Spokesperson.

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"Technology companies are constantly working to stay ahead of these kind of challenges through updates and patches. The safety and security of our users remains our highest priority, which is why in May we blocked the attack and have taken action in the courts to hold NSO accountable," the spokesperson added.

Published on November 04, 2019

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