The popular Messenger WhatsApp is frequently featured in our blog posts. In today’s blog post, we discuss a WhatsApp failure that could cause the app to crash and require reinstallation. This WhatsApp vulnerability is worth mentioning because it can be triggered by an unreadable message. How this message looks like and how you can protect yourself from this attack is explained in this article.
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Unreadable message causes WhatsApp failure
The origin of these unreadable messages, also called “Scary Messages”, comes from Brazil, where according to WEBetaInfo they are a big and widespread problem. The message contains nothing but characters that cannot be read by WhatsApp. If you open such a message from your cell phone, the app will crash immediately. Afterwards the victims have no other option than to uninstall the app and then download it again.
The reason for this reaction on the part of the app is a bug, this bug causes a collection of characters that WhatsApp cannot read to cause the app to crash. The same bug can also be triggered when a virtual contact (VCF) is filled with unreadable characters and is opened in Messenger on a cell phone.
-Anti crash integrated into official WhatsApp: There are messages designed to freeze or crash your WhatsApp. Then there are modded WhatsApp versions that have a “Crashcode protection” like a bigger Unicode database. We need this integrated into the official application. pic.twitter.com/bpyWtFUwQO
— Ian (@Ian_Oli_01) August 15, 2020
Protection against this attack
Protecting yourself against such messages is not so easy, because basically every WhatsApp user can write to all other WhatsApp users as long as they have the correct cell phone number. However, there are 2 ways to protect yourself relatively well against this attack and thus the WhatsApp disruption.
You should specify that you can only be added to groups by your contacts. Such messages are mostly distributed in groups so that as many people as possible can be attacked with minimal effort. This setting can be found and set under “Account” – “Privacy” – “Groups”.
Another option is to use WhatsApp in the period when this bug exists only via the desktop version WhatsApp-Web. If you open the dangerous messages via the desktop version nothing happens, because the bug exists only in the mobile versions of WhatsApp.
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)