Videos sent over WhatsApp could harm your phone - here’s how to stay safe

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 3:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 3:16 pm
Make sure your device isn't at risk (Photo: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp is a popular messaging app used by thousands around the world, but it might not be as safe as some people may think.

Following a warning issued by Facebook (which owns WhatsApp), users are being urged to take action to protect their devices from harmful software.

What’s the warning?

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In the Facebook warning, it says, “A stack based buffer overflow could be triggered in WhatsApp by sending a specially crafted MP4 file to a WhatsApp user.”

What this means is that it could allow malicious attackers hide harmful code inside special MP4 video files. If you were to then watch that video, it could allow hackers to run software on your device which stops you from being able to access the internet, WhatsApp or other services.

It means that the attackers could also access important information on your device, like your bank, about details.

Who is affected?

According to the warning issued by Facebook, the issue can affect:

Android phones running versions of the app older than 2.19.274iOS phones running versions of the app older than 2.19.100Windows phones running versions of the app older than (and including) 2.18.368

Android users can check what version of the app they’re running by going into their settings and looking at the app info for WhatsApp. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll be able to see what version is running.

iOS users can do the same by going to their settings, selecting general then iPhone storage where you’ll see a list of your installed apps. Select WhatsApp and you’ll be able to see what version you’re running.

Finally, Windows phones can view the version they’re running by going to the store, selecting downloads from the menu, and then going to history, where it will show you the latest version of an app you have installed.

How to stay protected

If you want to keep your phone or tablet protected against harmful software, making sure it’s up to date with the latest update is key.

You can update your app by:

Android: going to the play store, tapping menu, selecting my apps & games and then choosing the update option next to WhatsAppiPhone: going to the app store, tapping updates and choosing to update WhatsAppWindows 8.1: going to the store, tapping menu, going to my apps and choosing WhatsApp then updateWindows 10: going to the Microsoft Store, tapping menu and choosing my library, then tapping update next to WhatsApp

The WhatsApp FAQ states, “We encourage you to always use the latest version of WhatsApp. Latest versions contain the newest features and bug fixes.”

This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News