What you need to know
- WhatsApp users are advised to update the app to the latest version right away to avoid falling victim to a nasty bug.
- A specially formatted text sent in a group chat could cause the app to crash completely.
- The only remedy at that point is to delete the app from your phone and re-install it, alongside removing the offending group chat.
Weird messages causing your phone to crash are not new. Those of you with a good memory will probably remember stories about a Telugu text that was causing iPhones to crash making the rounds on your favorite tech sites last year. As it turns out, WhatsApp's had its own version of the same since late August, when Check Point Research, a cybersecurity firm, alerted the Facebook-owned company to the flaw in their software.
The bug was fixed soon after, with WhatsApp silently issuing an update sometime in September that resolved the issue. However, if you're not keen on updating your apps to the latest builds as soon as they are made available, you may still be vulnerable to the exploit. A specially formatted text message sent to one of your group chats could cause the app to stop functioning entirely.
If you have been affected, the only solution at the moment seems to be deleting the app from your phone and re-installing it — alongside downloading the many GBs worth of backup data you have probably accumulated over the years. Once that's done, you'll also need to immediately delete the group chat in which you received the malicious message in order to prevent a recurrence of the same problem.
To stay safe from all that, it's best to update your WhatsApp to the latest version immediately. This is probably also a good reminder for why you should always keep your apps updated. And it's maybe even a good idea to make use of WhatsApp's new settings that let you choose who can add you to group chats to prevent nefarious actors from adding you to groups without your permission.