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Why WhatsApp Hoax Forwards Must Be Avoided

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A hoax message on WhatsApp is circulated warning users Martinelli’ video that will ‘wipe their phone in under ten seconds. Read on to know more about it…

Recently, WhatsApp users are warned through a forward hoax text message urging them about a ‘Martinelli’ video that will ‘wipe their phone in under ten seconds’. A message is doing the rounds on WhatsApp warning users of a security threat which will hack their phone – but it becomes obvious that the post itself is a scam.

While, the source of the original message is unknown — it is said to have originated in Spain in 2017. Spanish police sent a tweet in July confirming that the message is a hoax and to not forward it.

The Warning Message
The unknown sender says that users are supposedly vulnerable to a piece of malicious software being distributed via the video link and instructs them to pass it on to friends. The message also alerts users about the ‘WhatsApp Gold’ message, a genuine scam which asks users to upgrade to premium to get ‘goodies and new emojis’.

Security experts say that users should ignore the message alerting them of a ‘Martinelli’ video which says that it’s capable of wiping your phone in under ten seconds. While concerned users are forwarding the message on to family and friends to warn them of the ‘Martinelli’ video, cyber security firm Sophos says that such security threat ‘does not exist’. Cyber security firm Sophos, based in Abington, confirmed that the message is ‘half rubbish’ saying there is no Martinelli video; however, the WhatsApp Gold scam is a real thing.

The message, which many are forwarding to friends in an effort to keep them safe, reads: ‘If you know anyone using WhatsApp you might pass on this.

‘An IT colleague has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called Martinelli do not open it.

‘It hacks your phone and nothing will fix it. Spread the word.’

‘If you receive a message to update the WhatsApp to WhatsApp Gold, do not click!!!!!

‘Now said on the news this virus is difficult and severe. Pass it on to all.’

Half Truth
Security firm Sophos explainsthat ‘WhatsApp Gold’ scam messages have, for at least two and a half years and via varyingly worded messages, claimed that the new “premium service” would get users extra goodies, such as video calling and new emojis.’

Users who clicked on the upgrade button were forwarded to a non WhatsApp website telling them to download WhatsAp Gold malware. Security company Sophos recommends users that if you receive a message from WhatsApp Gold do not pass it on or click into it and assures users that there is no Martinelli video.

Different variations of the same message are being sent in different countries by the unknown sender who say the message is coming from the authorities. An Irish version reads: ‘Warning from An Garda. An IT expert has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called Martinelli do not open it, it hacks your phone and nothing will fix it. Spread the word.’

Best Security Practices
To protect yourself from such hoax messages through WhatsApp forwards, the following steps are recommended…

• Apply security updates or configure to auto-update,

• Install your apps from Google Play or App Store,

• Use mobile security apps for iOS or Android,

• Ignore and report any message, call or email asking your sensitive and personal information,

• Never follow web links in a text message or email under any circumstances,

• If you are suspicious about any malicious activity, either log into your banking apps or any other financial apps securely.

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