Hackers Targeting Indian Defence Personnel Through WhatsApp

The Indian intelligence agencies have alerted the country’s security forces and defence personnel of a possible WhatsApp virus attack, saying that their personal information and banking data can easily be hacked through the virus.
The National Defence Academy (NDA) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) advised Indian security and defence personnel not to download two malicious files circulated recently by hackers on the messaging platform. NDA and NIA also said that the files falsely bear names of NDA, NIA and other elite organisations. Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi over the weekend, a senior NIA official said that defence personnel’s login data and bank PIN numbers could easily be hacked, if they download the files.
In October 2016, many public sector banks in India blocked more than 3.2 million debit cards after their ATM pins were hacked by an offshore (Chinese) hacker. The public sector banks informed their customers that bank authorities had to do so because the hacker made an unauthorised access to their servers.
As far as the WhatsApp virus is concerned, it is specifically targeting the Indian defence forces. In an advisory, the NIA said that the two files – ‘NDA-ranked-8th-toughest-College-in-the-world-to-get-into.xls’ and ‘NIA-selection-order-.xls’- are malicious virus-laden files that are formatted in the form of ‘MS Excel’ file. The two files are programmed to illegally extract personal information of the user.
The advisory states: “As these two organisations are very popular and known within the country and abroad and there is a curiosity to know more about them, it is possible that it may affect the mobile phones of people interested in these subjects. However, it has been analysed that the men and women in defence, paramilitary and police forces could be the target groups.”
The defence personnel have also been asked to report such incidents to their Information Technology cells as soon as possible.

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