National, News

Cyber alert against WhatsApp hijack

By William Madouk

South Sudan Computer Incident Response Team (SS-CIRT) issued a cyber-security alert to the public.

There has been a growing threat involving WhatsApp account takeover attempts by cyber criminals.

In the cyber advisory, SS-CIRT called on WhatsApp users to exercise caution and not fall prey to hackers.

“Cyber-criminals are employing a deceptive tactic where they attempt to hijack a target’s WhatsApp account by exploiting the target’s phone number, which is already registered on WhatsApp,” partly reads the advisory seen by this outlet.

“We urge you to remain vigilant and follow the guidance provided in this advisory to protect your WhatsApp account and personal information,” it added.

According to SS-CIRT, villains tend to create WhatsApp accounts using victims’ numbers. When the verification code is shared with a target for confirmation, a hacker who pretends to be from the WhatsApp team calls dupe to get the code.

“The cybercriminal then contacts the victim with a sense of urgency, claiming to be from WhatsApp support or providing another convincing pretext. They request that the victim share the verification code sent to their number,” the cyber defense team explained.

“If the victim shares the verification code, the cybercriminal gains control of their WhatsApp account. They can send messages impersonating the victim to contacts and groups, potentially spreading malicious content,” they continued.

But the Incident Respond Team instructed WhatsApp users to be skeptical of unknown calls, set two-step verification, update settings, and never share codes to avoid their account being taken over.

“Activate WhatsApp’s two-step verification feature. This adds an extra layer of security to your account, requiring a pin code that you set up to verify your identity,” it noted.

“Review and adjust your WhatsApp privacy settings to control who can see your profile information and contact you.”

Mr. Napoleon Adok, the Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), said he is pleased to introduce the South Sudan Computer Incident Respond Team (SS-CIRT), a first line of defense against cyber incidents.

Adok stated that safeguarding digital identity begins with knowing the information we share online.

According to him, SS-CIRT will embark on incident management, provide tips and guidelines, and issue advisory notices aimed at safeguarding our digital landscape from cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

The boss of the communication authority added that SS-CIRT will spearhead our national cyber security awareness campaign under the global theme “It is Easy to Stay Safe Online.”.

Recently, the official Facebook page of the first vice president, Dr. Riek Machar, with around 100,000 followers, was hijacked and allegedly brought down by cybercriminals.

In a statement, the press secretary in the office of FVP, Puok Bulang, said they were left with nothing but to create another account, “Office of the First Vice President, Republic of South Sudan.”


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