comscore Facebook fixes Instagram bug that could turn your phone into spying tool
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Instagram critical bug fixed by Facebook, could allow hackers to turn your phone into a spying tool

A critical vulnerability in Instagram that could have allowed hackers to take over a victims phone into a spying tool has been fixed by Facebook.

  • Published: September 28, 2020 5:28 PM IST
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Facebook has patched a critical vulnerability in Instagram that could have given an attacker the ability to take over a victims Instagram account, and turn their phone into a spying tool, simply by sending them a malicious image file. Also Read - Instagram increases time limits on livestreams to 4 hours

When the image is saved and opened in the Instagram app, the exploit would give the hacker full access to the victim’s Instagram messages and images, allowing them to post or delete images at will, as well as giving access to the phone’s contacts, camera and location data, according to cyber security researchers at Check Point. Also Read - Facebook Cloud Gaming service now out for Android, Web but iPhone users need to wait

An attack can be triggered once a malicious image is sent via email or WhatsApp and then saved on a victim’s device. The researchers revealed the critical vulnerability as remote code execution (RCE) that allows an attacker to take over a computer or a server by running arbitrary malicious software (malware). Also Read - New WhatsApp updates coming: Link devices, revised storage UI on iPhones

“This vulnerability can allow an attacker to perform any action they wish in the Instagram app. Since the Instagram app has very extensive permissions, this may allow an attacker to instantly turn the targeted phone into a perfect spying tool – putting the privacy of millions of users at serious risk,” the cyber security firm revealed in a blog post on Friday.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms globally, with over 100 million photos uploaded every day, and nearly 1 billion monthly active users.

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“The vulnerability we found was in the way that Instagram used Mozjpeg– an open source project used by Instagram as its JPEG format image decoder for images uploaded to the service,” the researchers explained.

The company disclosed the findings to Facebook and the Instagram team. Facebook described the vulnerability as an “Integer Overflow leading to Heap Buffer Overflow” and issued a patch to remediate the issue on the newer versions of the Instagram application on all platforms.

“The patch for this vulnerability has already been available for 6 months prior to this publication, giving time to the majority of users to update their Instagram applications, thus mitigating the risk of this vulnerability being exploited,” the researchers informed.

“We strongly encourage all Instagram users to ensure they are using the latest Instagram app version and to update if any new version is available”.

Written with agency inputs

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  • Published Date: September 28, 2020 5:28 PM IST



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