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‘Be wary of unsolicited calls, messages’ — NITDA warns Nigerians over alleged Whatsapp data breach

The National  Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has advised Nigerians to be on alert while using WhatsApp as their data could be exposed due to the recent alleged breach on the platform. 

Unconfirmed reports revealed that nearly 500 million WhatsApp users’ mobile phone numbers were leaked recently in a global data breach on the platform. 

While WhatsApp has yet to confirm or deny the alleged breach, NITDA said it became imperative to put over 9 million Nigerian WhatsApp users on the alert.  

Impending danger: While noting that the breach portends danger for WhatsApp users, NITDA said:  

  • “Following the alleged leak of nearly 500 million Whatsapp users’ mobile phone numbers globally which includes over 9 million contacts from Nigeria, there is an impending danger of threat actors using these data to carry out malicious activities, which may put users at great risk. 
  • “Such information could be used to perpetrate cyber-attacks such as smishing and vishing,” it added. 

Smishing and Vishing: According to NITDA, smishing involves sending an unsuspecting user text message(s) and asking them to click on links or provide personal information which can be used to scam victims or to launch other attacks. 

Vishing, on the other hand, entails the use of phone calls or voice messages by cyber criminals to manipulate or deceive unsuspecting recipients into revealing or giving out sensitive information, which could be used to carry out fraudulent acts. 

 Some preventive measures: In order not to fall victim, NITDA advised WhatsApp users in Nigeria to adhere to the following:  

  • Enable two-factor authentication on your instant messaging app. 
  • Do not reveal personal information on your profile. 
  • Do not respond to requests from untrusted or unknown contacts, asking for your data, passwords, or other verification code via messages or calls. 

The agency also advised users of all instant messaging platforms to be wary of unsolicited calls, voice notes, and messages from unknown numbers. 


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