In fresh trouble for WhatsApp, which is facing backlash over its upcoming user data policy in India, New Delhi-based think-tank Cyberpeace Foundation said on Monday that China-based hackers are targeting WhatsApp users in the country with the promise of ‘part-time’ jobs.
Such proliferating messages on WhatsApp, which come with attached links, claim that one can earn Rs 200 to Rs 3,000 in a day in 10 to 30 minutes.
“There are multiple links that redirect to a common URL and each link uses different numbers to send a message,” the foundation said in a statement.
“It can be observed that the same outgoing link is used for all the links with variation in the numbers. The parameter in the links indicates that they can be redirected to WhatsApp in all regions and in languages other than English,” said the report.
The CyberPeace Foundation along with experts from Autobot Infosec Private Ltd has launched an independent investigation into the matter.
“In all the links, the same redirection and outgoing sources were generated. However, in one link, a different URL was found and one new IP address that belongs to one of China’s hosting company Alibaba Cloud,” the report said.
When the URL is manipulated, an error code is displayed in Chinese language, the report said, adding that the domain names found during the investigation seem to have been registered in China.
“The IP address of the link is 188.8.131.52 and it can be traced to Alibaba Cloud, the city Hong Kong and the country China,” it further claimed.
The news comes at a time when WhatsApp is asking users to either give their consent to sharing data with Facebook or lose their accounts after February 8, triggering a heated debate globally, including in India.