Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
Check Point researchers have discovered a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allows a threat actor to intercept and manipulate messages sent by those in a group or private conversation. By doing so, attackers can put themselves in a position of immense power to not only steer potential evidence in their favour, but also create and spread misinformation.
The vulnerability so far allows for three possible attacks:
1. Changing a reply from someone to put words into their mouth that they did not say.
2. Quoting a message in a reply to a group conversation to make it appear as if it came from a person who is not even part of the group.
3. Sending a message to a member of a group that pretends to be a group message but is in fact only sent to this member. However, the member’s response will be sent to the entire group.
Make It Go Viral
As of early 2018, the Facebook-owned messaging application currently has over 1.5 billion users with over one billion groups and 65 billion messages sent every day. According to a report by global digital agencies, mobile users accounted for 172 million, most of whom used only two Facebook-owned platforms: WhatsApp and Messenger.
In addition, WhatsApp also has plans to roll out additional functionalities for businesses to help them do commerce and manage customer support through the app. Vulnerabilities such as the ones described above make the potential opportunities for scamming rife.
WhatsApp with the Fake News?
Due to its very nature of being an easy and quick way to communicate, WhatsApp has already been at the center of a variety of scams. From fake supermarket and airline giveaways to election tampering, threat actors never tire of ways to manipulate unsuspecting users.
In fact, the ability to social engineer on a mass scale was already seen at a level where even people’s lives were at stake. In Brazil, rumors quickly spread on WhatsApp about the dangers of receiving a yellow fever vaccine – the very thing that could have stopped an epidemic of the deadly virus during its 2016 rampage that infected 1500 people and killed almost 500.
More recently, last month vicious rumors, also spread via WhatsApp, led to a spate of lynching and murders of innocent victims in India.
WhatsApp is also taking an increasingly central role in elections, especially in developing countries. Earlier this year, again in India, WhatsApp was used to send messages, some of which were completely false.
Ultimately, social engineering is all about tricking the user and manipulating them to carry out actions they will later regret. With an ability to manipulate replies, invent quotes or send private messages pretending to be group ones, as seen in this research, scammers would have a far greater chance of success and have yet another weapon in their arsenal.
What’s more, the larger the WhatsApp group, where a flurry of messages are often sent, the less likely a member would have the time or inclination to double check every message to verify its authenticity, and could easily be taken in by the information they see. As already seen by spam emails that fake the sender’s name to appear to be from a source the receiver trusts, this latest vulnerability would allow for similar methods to be used though from a totally different attack vector.
How to Protect Yourself from Misinformation
While there are no security products that can yet protect users from these types of deceptions, there are several ideas to keep in mind to avoid being a victim of fake news, conspiracy theories and online scams in general.
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. And likewise, if something sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably is.
Misinformation spreads faster than the truth. Although you may be seeing the same news from multiple sources, this does not make it more factual than were it to come from a single source.
Check your ‘facts’. It is recommended to cross check what you see on social media with a quick online search to see what others may be saying about the same story. Or even better, do not get more of your news from social media websites at all.
YouTube paid $50 billion to creators, media outlets in 3 years, to pay them 45% Ad revenue
Video streaming platform, YouTube, has revealed that it paid content creators, artists, and media companies over $50 billion over the last 3 years.
The Google-owned streaming service recently announced that it would introduce advertising on its video feature shorts and give video creators 45% of the revenue.
With 30 billion-plus daily views and 1.5 billion-plus monthly logged-in users, Youtube is introducing new ways for creators to earn revenue through Shorts, and re-imagining the music industry and creator dynamic by opening up ads monetization for those who feature music in their videos.
YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, Neal Mohan, said: “YouTube’s first-of-its-kind, industry-leading Partner Program changed the game for long-form video. And now we’re changing the game again, this time by opening it up to Short-form creators and introducing revenue sharing to Shorts.
“This is the first-time revenue sharing is being offered for short-form video on any platform at scale, adding to the 10 ways creators can already earn revenue on YouTube. It’ll be available to all of those in YPP — including the new, mobile-first creators, who will be joining the program for the first time.”
Also speaking, Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, said: “Creator Music is the future. We’re building the bridge between artists and creators on YouTube to elevate the soundtrack of the creator economy; it’s a win-win-win for artists, songwriters, creators, and fans.
With Creator Music, artists have a new way to get their music out into the world; fans can now discover music they love on their favorite creator’s channels, and both creators and artists will have new revenue opportunities.
YouTube has 2.1 billion monthly active users based all around the world and the number shows no signs of slowing down, with the projected number of users increasing each year. In terms of daily active users, YouTube sees approximately 122 million users per day.
Kenyan logistics startup, Araka, launches on-demand App that prioritises drivers
Kenyan mobility and logistics startup, Araka, has launched a super App which seeks to solve challenges faced by on-demand e-hailing drivers and logistics companies.
The platform allows its customers to book all sorts of services, key among them rides and deliveries, but is to be more driver-focused than its competitors, according to the startup’s CEO, Mark Pascal.
Araka which was founded in November 2021 by Pascal, together with Drake Smith, Michael Kariamu and Emmanuel Maingi, is a “fintech, logistics and mobility platform that helps digital economy drivers own their vehicles for less, access short-term credit, and connect with clients,” according to Disrupt Africa.
Speaking on the successes of the platform, Pascal said:
“At Araka, we solve the two main problems faced by digital drivers. The first of these is the high commission charged by similar platforms.
“Where our competitors charge drivers up to 25 per cent commission, we charge only five per cent, hence helping our drivers to save up to 60 per cent of their current spending on commissions.
“The second major challenge is the high cost of consumer and work tool loans, where Araka is undercutting up to 150 per cent monthly interest on short-term loans to drivers for consumer credit like fuel, airtime and data.
“We offer our riders work tool financing at low four per cent monthly interest, leading to up to 12 per cent annual interest savings,” he said.
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