Tag: whatsapp

By Phillip de Wet for Business Insider SA

Scammers are separating helpful South Africans from their money in what appears to be a wave of fraud that relies on hijacking WhatsApp accounts – and then simply asking for money.

The scammers first take control of a victim’s phone number, usually by porting the number to a new service provider, and so associating it with a SIM card under their control. That allows them to receive confirmatory SMSes from WhatsApp, and so take control of an existing account, while the now-offline victim is none the wiser.

Now able to impersonate the victim, the scammers access the phone numbers of friends and acquaintances, in many instances seemingly just waiting for incoming messages, or by way of WhatsApp groups to which the victim belongs. Then they simply ask for money.

Number porting has in the past often been used to intercept one-time PIN (OTP) numbers – but that requirers scammers to have control of bank accounts, either by skimming credit card information or stealing login details for online banking.

In the current wave of scams, the attackers do not need such access. Friends of victims are asked to send money via services such as First National Bank’s eWallet, which sends the code required to withdraw money from an ATM via SMS – with the cash immediately available.

As of Wednesday it was not yet clear how widespread the new scam was, with network operators saying they were detecting only a small number of fraudulent attempts to port numbers – while many people said they were receiving worrying notifications, or had already seen their friends approached for money.

Here’s how to protect yourself against both sides of the latest WhatsApp hijacking scam.

Turn on security notifications in WhatsApp.
WhatsApp security code settings
WhatsApp will alert you when a contact changes their phones – if you let it. For those in many big WhatsApp groups – with people who like to switch phones – the constant messages that a contact’s “security code has changed” can becoming annoying, so some people turn it off.

If you are one of those people, turn those notifications back on by going to “settings”, then selecting “account”, and from there “security”.

Should a “friend” ask for money shortly after their security code changes, be extremely suspicious.

Don’t ignore porting SMSes.
Cellphone companies will send out notification, by SMS, before porting a number – but will consider no response as permission. If you receive an SMS that warns your number is to be ported, do not ignore it.

If you are worried that message might be a scam in itself, phone your network provider on the usual service number.

Don’t turn off your phone if you’re getting annoying calls.
Some victims of porting say they were bombarded by annoying phone calls before their numbers were hijacked. The idea behind constantly ringing your number is to make you turn off your phone – so that you won’t receive porting notifications, and won’t notice you have suddenly been kicked off the network.

If someone keeps phoning then putting down the phone before you can answer, or you keep receiving calls with nobody on the other side, assume you are being scammed, and rather put your phone on silent while watching out for SMSes.

Don’t ignore a loss of cellphone signal.
If your phone suddenly won’t connect to your mobile network – and you aren’t in the middle of nowhere, or in an area being load-shed – assume your number is being hijacked, and get in touch with your network service provider as soon as possible.

Don’t register a new WhatsApp account if you change phone numbers, update your number instead.
Some victims of WhatsApp identity fraud believe they were impersonated after their former, abandoned cellphone numbers were recycled by network operators.

If you are switching numbers and want to be sure nobody can pretend to be you in future, you can change the phone number associated with your WhatsApp account.

If you really care about your security, enable the PIN function on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp 2-step verification
For ultimate protection, you can create a six-digit PIN number in WhatsApp, without which it should be impossible to register on the service – so that no number-porting scam or other mechanism will let someone steal your identity.

There is no better way to protect yourself, but this two-step verification measure comes with a couple of caveats. If you do not associate an email address with that PIN, or lose access to the email address you register, you are in deep trouble if you ever forget your PIN. Also, WhatsApp will from time to time demand the number from you, which could get annoying.

The PIN activation is under “settings”, “account”, and then “two step verification”.

WhatsApp to launch new self-destruct feature

By Jasper Hamill for Metro

We’re all now wearyingly familiar with the concept that messages sent in private can be published publically and used to ruin our lives. So we’re glad to say that WhatsApp is about to give us a vital survival tool to help us through this age of cancel culture and social media mob justice.

It’s reportedly on the verge of rolling out ‘deleting messages’ which disappear after a short space of time. This means you can make off-colour jokes without fearing they will get into the hands of bullies and be used to destroy your career or get you kicked out of university.

The concept of an auto-deleting post was made famous by Snapchat, which prompted a moral panic stoked by grown-ups who were concerned young people were using the app to send nudes. Then Facebook introduced the feature in Instagram and now it’s about to grant WhatsApp fans the same superpower.

The reliable website WABetaInfo has claimed the feature is on the way and is now very close to release.

You’ll be able to choose whether posts vanish in one hour, day, week, month or year. The feature was originally called ‘disappearing messages’ but has now been renamed ‘deleting messages’.

It will work in group chats and probably one-on-one conversations as well. When these new type of messages are introduced, a new option will be introduced in group settings and the contact info sections which will allow users to switch them on and off.

WhatsApp has launched a new privacy feature which will stop you being pulled into group chats you don’t want to be a part of. The feature was rolled out to a limited number of people earlier this year but has now been officially released to all users. You can now choose who can add you to groups, letting you block dodgy people or prevent annoying friends from adding you.

WhatsApp is beefing up its privacy protections (Image: Getty) This might sound like a frivolous feature, but in fact it’s a great privacy tool because people in groups can see each other’s phone numbers.

If you can take control of who adds you into these chats, then you have an extra tool to protect your identity and make sure strange or scammy people don’t contact you as well as protecting yourself from bullies.

When you’ve updated the app, just open up settings and scroll to ‘account’, followed by ‘privacy’ and then ‘groups’. You will be able to choose who’s allowed to add you to groups, with three options available.

Select ‘everyone’ and you’re wide open whilst choosing ‘my contacts’ means only friends will be able to add you. The early version of the update allowed you to also choose ‘nobody’, which locked your account down entirely. This has now been replaced by ‘My Contacts Except’, which will let you allow only certain contacts to add you to a group.

Source: Lowvelder

According to the ChatBack website, a few easy steps on WhatsApp are all it takes to renew your car licence.

Here is how to renew your car licence in five easy steps:

Step one
There are three options to get started:

  • Scan the QR code on the website
  • SMS “Renew” to 44155
  • Add ChatBack to your contacts and WhatsApp them on 066-202-6685 to begin

Step two
Submit your car registration number. You will need your ID book to complete your renewal.

Step three
Get a quote and pay via the PayFast system which is secure, fast and simple.

Step four
Tell them which address you would like your documents to be delivered to.
Attach a copy or photo of your ID document
Attach proof of residence

Step five
Check the status of your renewal by sending “status” to the ChatBack WhatsApp number and they will inform you on the status of your renewal.

Facebook changes product branding to FACEBOOK

Source: BBC 

Facebook is introducing new branding for its products and services in an attempt to distinguish the company from its familiar app and website.

Instagram and WhatsApp are among the services that will carry the new FACEBOOK brand in the next few weeks.

The main Facebook app and website will retain its familiar blue branding.

The new logo, which is in capital letters, uses “custom typography” and “rounded corners” so the company’s other products and app look different.

The branding also appears in different colours depending on which product it represents. So, for example, it will be green for WhatsApp.

“We wanted the brand to connect thoughtfully with the world and the people in it,” Facebook said. “The dynamic colour system does this by taking on the colour of its environment.”

Facebook’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio said: “People should know which companies make the products they use. We started being clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook years ago.

“This brand change is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services to connect, share, build community and grow their audiences.”

US Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she wants to break up the big tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google and put them under tougher regulation.

This plan may be seen as Facebook’s way of hitting back, although Ms Warren – posting on Facebook – said: “Facebook can rebrand all they want, but they can’t hide the fact that they are too big and powerful. It’s time to break up Big Tech.”

Distancing the Facebook brand – the blue app that’s home to just about everyone, including your parents – from the trendier Instagram, a place for you and your friends, has always made good business sense for Facebook.

And it apparently worked: when Pew researchers asked study participants whether or not Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp, 49% of American adults were “not sure”.

So why would Facebook make this change?

It brings several benefits. Front of mind: the firm is covering itself from accusations it hides how powerful it really is by not making it absolutely clear they are behind most of the biggest apps in social media.

And Facebook also wants to fend off efforts to break it up, by making the case that the company isn’t simply a conglomerate of separate, distinct apps which could be easily broken up by regulators. Instead, this rebranding argues the firm is one big connected organism, called Facebook.

Facebook has come under criticism recently over a variety of issues.

Its boss Mark Zuckerberg had to face US lawmakers last month to explain the company’s policy on not fact-checking political adverts.

He also had to defend plans for a digital currency, talk about the social network’s failure to stop child exploitation on the network, and was quizzed over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Earlier in the year, Mr Zuckerberg said the firm was going to make changes to its social platforms to enhance privacy.

These included messages sent via Messenger being end-to-end encrypted, and hiding the number of likes an Instagram post receives from everyone but the person who shared it.

South African WhatsApp scam warning

Source: MyBroadband

The National Stokvel Association of South Africa (Nasasa) is warning South Africans about WhatsApp stokvel scams which are targeting victims through social media.

These WhatsApp stokvels catch unsuspecting victims by promising them a large return on investment in a short period of time.

For a R200 upfront investment the scammers promise that people will be paid R1,200 if their recruit more people into the scheme.

Participants said that as soon as they paid their money to the “WhatsApp stokvel”, the rest of the members disappeared.

Andrew Lukhele, founder and chairperson of Nasasa, warned that these WhatsApp stokvels are pyramid schemes.

As it is a pyramid scheme, only a few people who form part of the stokvel will get paid out. The rest will lose their money.

Lukhele warned that criminals are using the popularity of stokvels to promote their scams.

Police warning
The SA Police Service (SAPS) has also warned South Africans about these scams, saying that members of cash savings clubs (stokvels) must be cautious.

The SAPS said it has received multiple complaints from people who were scammed by criminals through a WhatsApp stokvel.

The police have asked the victims of the scams, or those who have knowledge about them, to contact the SAPS Crime Stop helpline on 0860 010 111.

How WhatsApp is killing calls in SA

A recent article by MyBroadband explored how the popularity of VoIP services like WhatsApp has impacted voice income for South African major mobile networks: Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C.

  • Vodacom has experienced a “slight decrease in the consumption of traditional voice minutes”, but said the advantages of traditional GSM calls still make it a good option for consumers.
  • MTN told MyBroadband that it has “experienced a decrease in traditional calls and an increase in VoIP usage to match”.
  • Cell C admitted they had noticed a decrease in the amount of traditional call minutes being used, but said that it had stabilised.
  • Telkom told MyBroadband that it had “not seen a decrease in the average minutes of use per user for both on and off-network calling”.

However, according to We are Social, “WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app … in South Africa. We have 38-million unique mobile users, which grew by two million between 2017 and 2018. ”

The high costs of data in South Africa prevent many users from using WhatsApp’s full capabilities.

MTN fined R5m for hiking WhatApp bundle prices

By Kgomotso Modise for EWN 

The network has been slapped with a R5-million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

MTN says it believes its penalty from Icasa in the 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle case should be proportional to its transgression.

The network has been slapped with a R5 million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1 gigabyte monthly WhatsApp bundle. At least R2 million of the fine is suspended for 3 years.

In a statement, MTN spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan details multiple instances where the network notified Icasa of its intentions to increase the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

She said they also wrote to Icasa shortly before the price hike but there was no response and it went ahead with the adjustment.

MTN said it respected the role of the authority and insisted that, at the time, the company believed that increasing the price of the bundle was the only way to ensure the continued functionality of MTN SA’s 3G network.

The network said it was very aware of the required Icasa timing, which was why it applied for leniency.

MTN will be taking the decision on review to the High Court.

WhatsApp rolls out trial fingerprint lock

By Babu Mohan for Android Central

The latest WhatsApp beta for Android adds support for fingerprint locking. WhatsApp had rolled out the authentication feature to iOS beta users roughly six months back.

Even with the Fingerprint lock feature enabled, you can still reply to messages from the notifications shade and answer WhatsApp calls.

In February this year, WhatsApp had rolled out the Authentication feature for iOS beta users, making it possible to use Touch ID to unlock the app. After more than six months, the feature has finally been made available for Android beta users today.

As spotted by the folks over at WABetaInfo, the Fingerprint lock feature will allow WhatsApp beta users on Android to open the app using the fingerprint sensor on their phone. Similar to the Authentication feature on iOS, users can still reply to messages from the notifications shade and answer calls, even when the app is locked.

The feature is available in the latest 2.19.221 beta version of the app. If you have already updated WhatsApp to the latest version and still do not see the Fingerprint lock feature, you should try reinstalling the app after backing up your chat history. In case the feature still doesn’t show up, all you can do is wait for it to be activated, provided your device meets the requirements.

To enable the feature, head over to Settings > Account > Privacy and tap on the Fingerprint lock option. Once you enable it, you will need to touch the fingerprint sensor every time you wish to unlock WhatsApp.

You can also choose how long the app should stay unlocked once you open it. You can have the feature automatically lock the app after 1 minute or 30 minutes. If you disable the ‘Show content in notifications’ option, WhatsApp will no longer show the sender and message preview when you have Fingerprint lock feature enabled.

Google Assistant gains the ability to read and reply to messages from third-party apps.

Facebook to rename WhatsApp, Instagram

By Alex Heath for The Information

In a big shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to three people familiar with the matter. The social network will rebrand the apps to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” the people said.

Employees for the apps were recently notified about the changes, which come as antitrust regulators are examining Facebook’s acquisitions of both apps. The app rebranding is a major departure for Facebook, which until recently had allowed the apps to operate and be branded independently. The distance has helped both apps avoid being tarnished by the privacy scandals that have hurt Facebook. The move to add Facebook’s name to the apps has been met with surprise and confusion internally, reflecting the autonomy that the units have operated under.

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been frustrated that Facebook doesn’t get more credit for the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp. Associating those apps with Facebook could improve the overall companies’ brand with consumers.

Bertie Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, confirmed the branding change to Instagram and WhatsApp. “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” she told The Information, noting that the company uses similar branding for other products like Workplace, its enterprise chat tool.

The ‘from Facebook’ branding will be visible inside the apps—users will see it when they log on, for instance—and elsewhere, such as in app stores.

Zuckerberg has in recent months rallied his lieutenants to unify the messaging systems behind the company’s apps, with the goal of allowing users to communicate across them. The company has also taken steps over the past year to exert more influence over both organizations. The co-founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram abruptly departed Facebook last year, and Zuckerberg has replaced them with veteran Facebook executives who now report to him.

In another sign that Facebook is bringing what employees internally refer to as its “family of apps” closer together, employees responsible for Instagram’s messaging feature called Direct were recently notified that they will report into the team behind Facebook’s standalone Messenger app, according to a person familiar with the matter. Thomson declined to comment.

Significant challenges

While the undertaking to connect the apps presents significant technical challenges, Facebook hopes that letting users message across its apps will open up more opportunities for e-commerce and keep users loyal to its messaging ecosystem.

Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 when the photo-sharing app had tens of millions of users and was growing quickly. Two years later, Facebook paid $22 billion to buy the messaging service WhatsApp, which at the time had 600 million monthly users. The deals cemented Facebook’s dominance in the global social media landscape, and both apps play an increasingly important role in Facebook’s future growth prospects. Both apps now have more than 1 billion users. Instagram has been estimated to be worth more than $100 billion if it were a standalone company.

Internal Facebook research has recently shown that WhatsApp and Messenger compete for user attention, and that Facebook users are increasingly also sharing to Instagram and WhatsApp, The Information previously reported. Of all the Facebook apps, the research showed that Instagram was growing the fastest globally while overall engagement for the Facebook app was flat in 2018 after falling the year prior.

Facebook recently confirmed that it’s under antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and recent reports by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg said regulators are specifically examining the social network’s history of acquisitions and whether they were defensive moves to stifle competition. The Department of Justice has also recently said that it’s beginning a broad antitrust probe of large tech companies.

While studies show that Facebook’s brand has been tarnished by its many privacy scandals, and that users are increasingly becoming more aware of the firm’s data collection practices, Instagram and WhatsApp have largely remained unscathed. Two 2018 surveys conducted by the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo found that more than half of Americans didn’t know Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp.

By Jasper Hamill for The Metro 

WhatsApp has promised to take legal action against people or companies who break its rules – even if the ‘abuse’ took place on another platform. The messaging app has strict guidelines governing its own users’ behaviour and anyone who breaks the terms of service can already be hit by a ban.

But now the Facebook-owned company wants to take things a bit further by hauling users into court. And you don’t need to break the rules on WhatsApp itself to find yourself in trouble, because its enforcers will strike even they find ‘off platform-evidence of abuse’.

It wrote: ‘WhatsApp is committed to using the resources at its disposal – including legal action – to prevent abuse that violates our terms of service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use. ‘This is why in addition to technological enforcement, we also take legal action against individuals or companies that we link to on-platform evidence of such abuse.

WhatsApp reserves its right to continue taking legal action in such circumstances.’

If you want to keep a WhatsApp account and not get sued, you might want to avoid using bots to send spam – which is known as automated or bulk messaging. The app has said that anyone who leaves off-platform evidence of abuse after December 7, 2019, will find themselves in its crosshairs.

WhatsApp added: ‘Beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform.

‘For example, off-platform information includes public claims from companies about their ability to use WhatsApp in ways that violate our Terms. This serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies for which we only have off-platform evidence of abuse if that abuse continues beyond December 7, 2019, or if those companies are linked to on-platform evidence of abuse before that date.

‘We are committed to reinforcing the private nature of our platform and keeping users safe from abuse.’

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