Hyderabad: Stay cautious about downloading video files sent through WhatsApp. Almost two weeks after WhatsApp confirmed a security breach through Pegasus, a new hacking threat transferred via MP4 files has been confirmed.

The popular messaging platform has come under public scrutiny again for revealing vulnerability. On November 14, Facebook, the social networking conglomerate that owns WhatsApp, issued an advisory stating, “A stack-based buffer overflow could be triggered in WhatsApp by sending a specially crafted MP4 file to a WhatsApp user. The issue was present in parsing the elementary stream metadata of an MP4 file and could result in a denial of service (DoS) or remote code execution (RCE).”

It means that the vulnerable/hacked MP4 file could trigger a DoS or an RCE, which translates into a cyber-attack. It is said that hackers may easily track user’s information through these malicious video files. As per Facebook’s advisory, this can affect Android versions before 2.19.274, iOS versions before 2.19.100, WhatsApp Business for Android versions before 2.19.104, WhatsApp Business for iOS versions before 2.19.100 and Windows Phone versions before and including 2.18.368.

The security issue becomes even more pertinent in the context of the recent snooping confirmed by Israeli spyware, Pegasus, which had hacked WhatsApp’s video-calling system. Several journalists, lawyers and activists from India were reportedly under the surveillance of this spyware. The issue had sparked a bigger controversy wherein the government of India abjectly denied having permitted the spyware to conduct its surveillance operations through WhatsApp.

While the advisory issued by Facebook does not reveal much, this much is clear: that there is a security threat within the Facebook-owned app, and it needs to be immediately rectified. While WhatsApp claims that it is consistently working on the security of the app, it is up to ordinary users to guard themselves against suspicious files.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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