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WhatsApp scams hacker in mask

Popular security giant F-Secure Labs recently published a report on how 22,000 people fell for scam and had got spammed on WhatsApp.

Spamming has been one of the oldest menaces online and spammers find it as a way to make more money. However, spamming itself is a very complex method and spammers actually trick the system to spam users. The methods they use not only help them to circulate their spam successfully, but would also get the spammer to know the crucial details about the user.

Spammers usually employ techniques that prompt the user to click on links, from where they are redirected to the targeted website, which is generally a method of advertising. The major task of spammers from all over the world is to bypass the security measures in place and successfully trap the user into visiting their website. Due to this, spammers have been able to generate thousands of dollars and as per the latest studies, they end up making nearly 3.5 million dollars per annum.

Although conventional spammers made use of emails, they are now resorting to methods like WhatsApp to trap more users and generate more revenues. Listed below are the methods used by spammers to attract WhatsApp users into their website and generate revenues:

1. Clicking on malicious links

Online phishing hacker hand

This is the most used technique by spammers where they lure users into clicking on malicious links. WhatsApp users were recently fooled by spammers as they sent a text message to WhatsApp users saying that the version of WhatsApp they are using is outdated and hence, they would have to click on the link to update their version. However, as expected, the message did not originate from WhatsApp, but was a spam that led to an increase in the phone bill the moment users clicked on the link.

2. Prompting users to send text messages to special numbers

iPhone text message typing

F-Secure Labs recently said that this was the easiest way to trick users. Typically, the spammer sends a message that tempts the user to reply, such as, “We have a job offer for you. Respond to this number,” or by sending users sexually inspired messages that would lure the user into replying to a special number, where premium message rates are applicable.

Recently, police in Spain arrested a team of members who had generated nearly 5 million euros by sending such messages to users and phishing their money.

3. Directing web traffic to a particular website

Website advertising flat concept

Advertising is also a major revenue generator for spammers. The key is to have a lot of users visit a particular website and get money off the advertisements that are displayed on the website. Spammers make use of social networking methods such as Facebook or WhatsApp to circulate a link among users along with a message that lures them into clicking the link, and thereby generate revenues.

F-Secure Labs reported popular scams where you could win a tablet, or where you could try the calling feature in WhatsApp before it was released etc. and users fell for the same.

Although the way people communicate has greatly changed ever since WhatsApp became popular, but people must realize that there are threats involved too and should stay safe against the threats involved. Hence, it is best recommended that people learn about all the ways in which spammers usually trick users, before they start using social networking or messaging applications.

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