Manipur man detects WhatsApp bug, enters Facebook Hall of Fame 2019.

Manipur man detects WhatsApp bug, enters Facebook Hall of Fame 2019.

June 15, 2019.

Zonel Sougaijam, a civil engineer from Manipur has been honoured by Facebook for discovering a WhatsApp bug that violated the privacy of a user.

A 22-year-old civil engineer, Zonel Sougaijam, said, “the social media giant awarded $5000 to him and also included him in the ‘Facebook Hall of Fame 2019’, for detecting the WhatsApp bug.” 22-year-old Mr. Sougaijam’s name is currently at the 16th position in a list of 94 people, in the ‘Facebook Hall of Fame’ for this year and Facebook also awarded him $5000 ( (approximately Rs 3.4 lakh) for the discovery.

Mr. Sougaijam, said, “During a voice call through WhatsApp, the bug used to allow the caller to upgrade it to a video call without the authorization and knowledge of the receiver. The caller was then able to see what the other person was doing, violating the privacy of the receiver.”

Recently, WhatsApp revealed that it discovered a vulnerability in its network system that allowed hackers to install spyware via an infected Whatsapp voice call. The Facebook-owned social messenger stated the spyware can exploit the mobile device, its calls, texts, and other data. It can also activate the phone’s camera, microphone, and able to perform other malicious activities. According to Facebook, the malicious spyware was developed by Israel-based cyber intelligence company NSO Group.

Mr. Sougaijam, after discovering the bug, said, he had reported the matter to the Bug Bounty Program of the Facebook, which deals with the violation of privacy matters, in March. The Facebook Security team acknowledged his report and its technical department fixed the bug within 15-20 days.

According to Facebook, the mobile devices with WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business installed in them are affected, including Apple’s iPhone (iOS), Android phones, Windows Phones, and Tizen devices. However, the company clarified that it’s unclear on the number of people spied on by hackers.

Facebook in an e-mail sent to Mr. Sougaijam, said, “After reviewing this issue, we have decided to award you a bounty of $5000.” The man said he found his name in the Facebook ‘ Hall of Fame’ page this month.

Facebook, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, purchased the messaging service WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion in February 2014. Facebook had acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. The company has been embroiled in data privacy concerns and political implications of its algorithms over the last few years.

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