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Update WhatsApp before someone crashes your app and wipes all your group chats

Published Dec 17th, 2019 3:20PM EST
WhatsApp security exploit
Image: Martin Meissner/AP/Shutterstock

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It’s important to keep all of your software updated on all of your devices, but sometimes updates are so crucial that they deserve a PSA all their own. That’s the case for WhatsApp this week, as security researchers from Check Point (via 9to5Mac) claim that a significant security flaw has been discovered in both the iOS and Android versions of the popular chat app. If exploited, the flaw can permanently crash your app until you reinstall it.

Here’s the full explanation of the WhatsApp security flaw from Check Point Research:

The defect would have enabled a bad actor to deliver a destructive group chat message that produces a swift and complete crash of the entire application for all members of the group chat. The crash is so severe that users are forced to uninstall and reinstall the application, in order to gain proper use of WhatsApp.

Furthermore, the user would be unable to return to the group chat, which would lead to the loss of all group chat history, indefinitely. The group chat would then not be able to be restored after the crash occurs and would need to be deleted in order to stop the crash-loop.

You can also see just how effective the attack is in the video below, which walks through the entire process:

The good news is that, as always, Check Point informed WhatsApp of the problem before it went public, which means that an update to fix the security flaw has already been seeded. If you want to check and see whether or not your app is up-to-date, head to the App Store, tap on your profile picture in the top-right corner of the screen, and scroll down until you find WhatsApp under Updated Recently. If you’re on version 2.19.120 or later, you’re in the clear. If not, head to the App Store page for WhatsApp and update ASAP.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.