A viral message claiming that a video called “India is doing it” will hack your phone in 10 seconds, is being circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.
No such video has been shared or found, and it is evident that the message is a hoax.
Various versions of the same message are being circulated on social media. The message claims that Pakistan, or China, has started circulating a video on the flattening of the COVID-19 curve and if opened, the file can hack your phone.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
According to WhatsApp’s security and privacy guidelines, hoax messages can be identified by certain characteristics like:
- The message content includes instructions to forward the message
- The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message
The viral message can, thus, be characterised as a hoax since it asks the users to forward the message and prevent their phones from being hacked.
Further, the wording of the message is identical to another viral forward on WhatsApp, which said that a video called, “Argentina is doing it,” will hack your phone in 10 seconds.
Several fact-checking website, including Snopes had debunked it, calling it a hoax. CNN denied carrying any such reports on a WhatsApp video hacking users’ phone.
Similarly, on a simple keyword search, we found no news reports by TV channels on this file called “India is doing it.” A video of the same could not be found either.
Can a Video from WhatsApp Hack Your Phone?
Speaking to The Quint, Sai Krishna Kothapalli, founder and CEO at cyber security firm, Hackrew, stated:
“WhatApp had such a vulnerability an year ago that could allow hacking, but the bug has been patched since then on priority.”
Facebook had also issued an advisory in November 2019, stating that they had fixed a bug, which could allow a phone to be hacked by sending a specially crafted MP4 file to a WhatsApp user.
However, the bug only infected app versions prior to 2.19.274 on Android and 2.19.100 on iOS. India’s Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT-IN, also issued a notice for the same, warning users to update their apps to the latest version.
Prateek Waghre, a technology and policy research analyst at The Takshashila Institution, told The Quint that such an attack was “unlikely.”
“It sounds like a hoax message in its language itself. It also depends on what they mean by hacking, but a simple MP4 file cannot do that,” Waghre stated.
Both the experts suggested that as a preventive measure, if a video has been forwarded to you by an unknown person or in a group of unknown people, it’s best to not download it.