How a Backpack Stuffed with Spy Tech Can Pry into WhatsApp

By on Oct 06, 2016

We use backpacks to carry our portable technology. But now they can carry a new technology that gets inside those personal devices. Specifically, into our WhatsApp. The product is a Wi-Fi hacking device, made by an Israeli spy tech firm called Wintego, and is said to easily fit into a backpack. However, the danger doesn’t lie with the device, called WINT, but rather what’s loaded on it. A new app named CatchApp.

CatchApp does what it says: it catches data from your WhatsApp account—just as long as your phone is within close proximity of the WINT device carrying the spy tech app. Meaning, if a backpack near yours is holding the Wi-Fi hacking device, your WhatsApp data could be vulnerable. Wintego says the app has the capability to break through WhatsApp encryption and grab everything from the target’s account. That means chat sessions, detailed contact lists, files, photos…all of it.

In fact, Wintego claims CatchApp can get inside all versions of WhatsApp, despite the fact that, in late 2014, its developers began deploying end-to-end encryption using an advanced protocol called Signal. This means CatchApp can, apparently, understand how encrypted data is both mangled and relayed between WhatsApp users. This allows CatchApp to read virtually any secret message sent over the app.

So who can get their hands on all this information? Wintego has said that WINT and CatchApp are not going to be sold to the public. But their product is evidence of hacking technology, and the spy tech space, evolving.

This decryption technique is part of a larger cybersecurity trend in 2016: everyone is updating. While companies are trying to improve encryption methods and security measures to protect users’ information, other cybersecurity experts are working on developing more and more ways to access that same data.

Spy tech has seen a lot of recent development as well. With mobile, email, and computer surveillance, the space keeps growing. And since spy tech is now being used to target specific apps, it’s an industry to keep your eye on.

In the meantime, here are a few tips to protect yourself from targeted and proximity-based attacks:

  • Don’t forget to update. Companies, such as WhatsApp, understand that they’re treasure troves for personal data. And therefore, they’re targets. They’re constantly updating their software to be as secure as possible, so make sure to always update your apps and devices whenever possible.
  • Your phone goes with you everywhere, so protect it everywhere. With new technology such as CatchApp, which targets someone’s mobile device based off of proximity, security needs to be mobile too. That way, you can stay safe wherever you go. To keep your phone—and all your devices for that matter—secure, you can protect it with a comprehensive security solution like McAfee LiveSafe.

And of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.

gary

About the Author

Gary Davis

Gary Davis was previously McAfee's Consumer Security Evangelist providing security education and advice to businesses and consumers. He is a sought-after speaker on trends in digital security, appearing at conferences and events, as well as security and consumer lifestyle broadcast outlets and publications such as ABC, NBC, FOX, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Money ...

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