The speed with which a fix was rolled out to patch the WhatsApp security flaw has illustrated the importance of keeping on top of device updates.
It was announced in early may that hugely popular messaging service WhatsApp had been the victim of a hack, which involved cyber criminals being able to install spyware through a simple WhatsApp call. What’s more, affected users didn’t even need to pick up the call to be infected.
Once the spyware was installed, it could see all previous calls and texts, and even switch on the device’s camera and microphone.
Though the hack itself caused great worry among the many millions of users worldwide, their concerns were mitigated by the speed of the fix. Seemingly as soon as the hack became public knowledge, Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) had created a fix and was ordering users to update their apps as soon as possible.
Whilst some users may have had to manually force an update, or even delete the app and re-install, the fix was there before many had even been made aware of the vulnerability.
This illustrates just how important it is to keep your devices up to date and always running the latest software. With WhatsApp Business also having been impacted by the hack, it could have had serious ramifications for organisations around the world if they were hit.
In fact, the nature of the attack means anyone is susceptible; even if you have the strongest firewalls or the most secure servers, employee smartphones could still be at risk. With users often totally unable to fix any such issue themselves, companies must instead rely entirely on the software developer or device manufacturer to roll out a patch – and fast.
As The Guardian’s consumer tech editor Samuel Gibbs explained: “Keeping your apps up to date is crucial for protecting yourself against hacking and data theft.
“While most security holes are fixed by software makers, you’re only protected if you actually receive the software fix.”