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WhatsApp holiday hack is back, how to avoid it?

Every year, holidays prove to be a prosperous period for cybersecurity breaches. From fake links, to fake traffic, viruses and hacking tricks… friends and family become victims of such malicious approach.
Messaging have become a staple in our daily life, especially during the lockdowns we experienced this year. WhatsApp is by far the leading messaging app in 2020, with a surge in usage of 51% in some markets. The application is even more used during Christmas and end of year holidays when friends, colleagues and family members get in touch through video calls, voice and written messages.
Hence, it is not surprising that a widespread WhatsApp hack was back to life this last month and many are falling victims. How does it go and how to avoid it, is what we will tackle in the following paragraphs:
First, you will get a message from one of your friends that looks like this:
It says, “Hi, sorry, I sent you a 6-digit code by SMS by mistake. Can you transfer it to me? It’s urgent” along with crying emoticons to add emotions and a sense of urgency. Once you receive this message, high chances are your friend’s WhatsApp account was hacked and it is now under the hacker’s control. The hacker will have access to your friends and WhatsApp groups. So they start messaging the groups’ members aiming to hijack more accounts.
During the rush of messages, one may tend to send the 6-digit code out of friendship and the urge to attend to a friend in need. DON’T.
If received immediately call your friend and alert them so they know their account is hacked and they start taking the necessary measures to abort the account hacking. We advise you not to notify your friend via WhatsApp messaging as the hacker may see it and will remove you from the groups you are member in, on your friend’s account.
As bothering as all this may seem, the good news is that the hacker in this instance only has access to WhatsApp groups and cannot access your friend’s device, sms, contacts, gallery….
If you have been hacked, the target will be your friends. The hacker will take advantage of human emotions as we are coded to trust our friends and start asking them for emergency help or even money. If you have been scammed, Do Not Panic! The fix is available and not at all complicated.
Uninstall WhatsApp and reinstall it to reregister your existing account with a fresh activation code. To confirm that you own the phone number, WhatsApp will ask you to enter a 6-digit registration code sent to you via SMS or phone call. Verifying your phone number with a registration code is the only way you can activate your account, and you must be able to receive the code on your phone. This may take some time to work. Don’t get stressed it is only a matter of time.
Once the account is reregistered and restored, we strongly advise you to set up the Two-Step Verification feature right away to secure your account and make sure you are never fooled twice. When enabling this feature, you create and confirm a unique PIN that is required to access your account.
How to activate the “Two-Step Verification” setting:
• Go to Settings in Whatsapp and click Account.
• Click on Two-step verification.
• Click Enable.
• Enter a secret 6-digit PIN of your choice. Make sure it is a number you can remember.
• Always add a backup email account to reset your PIN in case you forget it.
Check this video from ITWorksME shared with their client base and friends as a step by step guide to how to enable the Two-Step Verification on your accounts.
Takeaway: Never share the 6-digit code or PIN with ANYONE
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