WhatsApp has not released any “Gold” or premium versions of its widely popular messenger service. The WhatsApp Gold app that is presently in the news is malware, and if you ever receive or have received a message or pop-up regarding this app – DO NOT click on the link provided in the message.
WhatsApp – In a Nutshell
If you have a smartphone you are most probably and actively using WhatsApp. So you know the benefits of WhatsApp. WhatsApp was founded by Jan Koum and Brian Acton in 2009. Worldwide, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app with more than 30 billion messages being sent every day. As on February 2016, it has a user base that has reportedly grown to one billion. While WhatsApp had initially maintained a subscription fee, it has been made totally free from January 18, 2016. Over the years, WhatsApp has extended support for different types of operating systems.
Though WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, it has stated that it would not change its values or vision. Based on popular requests WhatsApp had in January 2016 introduced the facility of using WhatsApp on web browsers – a desktop app named – WhatsApp Web. In their latest advancement, WhatsApp has also introduced full end-to-end encryption for protecting all private communication.
So much about the genuine WhatsApp.
Unofficial Apps and Malware Apps
However, WhatsApp has not released different versions such as the WhatsApp Gold app or the ‘WhatsApp Plus’ app. While the WhatsApp Gold app is a malicious app that users need to be wary and steer clear of, the ‘WhatsApp Plus’ app is an unofficial third-party application developed by independent developers. It is considered to have more advanced features than the original WhatsApp including unique compression of multimedia files. Many considered this app not to be malicious while the official WhatsApp warns that ‘WhatsApp Plus’ could share the personal information of its users. Now, the WhatsApp Plus version cannot be found in official app stores.
So, don’t search for WhatsApp Plus on the web. You will be able to get it, but downloading it is at your risk!
WhatsApp Gold – malware
Don’t fall for this Gold, now!
Cyber criminals are targeting WhatsApp users with a message stating that a Whatsapp golden version (which was being used only by famous celebrities) has been leaked. The version was purported to have additional features not available in the standard WhatsApp. Features such as video chatting, free calling, multiple themes, and facility to send multiple messages at once were claimed. The golden version was touted to be an invitation only, limited release version and users had to click on a specific link. This infects the phone with malware, which could possibly allow the cyber criminals to track the activities on the phone and also steal sensitive data.
Your Data Stolen!
WhatsApp (the genuine one) advises users to uninstall the malicious app immediately. Furthermore, WhatsApp temporarily prevents the users from using their genuine accounts for 24 hours.
Precautions to protect your Smartphone/ Mobile Device
- Do not download apps from any place other that the Google store or Apple App store.
- Regularly scan your device for malware infection
- Use an effective antivirus or a virus protection software that has auto-sandboxing feature
- Run suspected apps or files in a sandboxed or contained environment.
- Ignore scam messages purporting to be from WhatsApp affiliates.
- Ignore messages warning that your WhatsApp account may be suspended or blocked if you do not forward the message.
- Ignore messages that your WhatsApp subscription could be extended for free by clicking on a button. (WhatsApp is already free. Jan Koum – the WhatsApp’s founder had in January 2016 announced that the messenger service would be free).
Stay safe and WhatsApp!