After “text bomb” messages plagued iMessage users in recent weeks, similar attacks are now descending upon WhatsApp users.
What is the attack?
Affected users will receive a message consisting of a plethora of nonsensical gibberish, which WhatsApp is unable to render, causing the app to crash.
What’s worse is that once the message is opened, the user could experience this problem every time they open the app, making it impossible to use. Another variation of the attack involves the forwarding of corrupted VCFs, which are contact files with multiple contacts. The contacts will have long names with alien characters, leading to the same problems with rendering.
The only option the user is left with is to delete the app and reinstall it.
The difficulty is primarily affecting Brazilian users, although it is becoming more widespread. It was first noticed on Sunday by WABetaInfo, which remarked,“There isn’t a general way to describe this, so we prefer to call them ‘Scary Messages.’ Scary Messages are very dangerous and they can destruct your experience in WhatsApp.”
What is WhatsApp doing about it?
WhatsApp is currently working on a fix for the issue, saying in a statement that it:
“…has released and already begun rolling out a patch that addresses this in its latest iOS software update…we strongly encourage users to keep their WhatsApp app and mobile operating system up to date and download updates whenever they’re available.”
How to protect yourself
For now, be sure to set your messaging options so that only your contacts can add you to groups, be wary of messages from unknown senders, and back up your message history.