By Rohit Alok
Advertisements for affordable houses and contact details of women with display images on WhatsApp are the latest methods of hacking into cell phones, the Mumbai Police said.
According to police sources, cyber criminals hack into cellphones of unsuspecting victims by sending Trojans in the guise of WhatsApp advertisements for affordable housing, or contact cards of young women.
“These messages appear to be harmlesss when viewed at first but are actually viruses, also known as Trojans, sent to hack the data on the victims’ phone from anonymous numbers,”said a police officer.
The police said that the most popular Trojans doing the rounds are that of contact cards with profile photographs of women.
“The picture is just the bait that tempts the receiver to open and view the contact details, thus enabling the virus to enter the phone,”the officer added.
One such Mumbaikar, a marketing executive, said that he received a profile picture of woman on January 24.
“The name on the contact card was Divya, she was smiling and her photo was alluring. Once the message was opened it read ‘Call me’ and was contained a Mumbai based landline number. I did not have the courage to call the number,” said Raj Jain (name changed).
Jain claimed that he received the contact card of another girl, supposedly named Michelle, in a bikini from the same number. Finding it to be a suspicious coincidence, Jain blocked the number immediately.
“We are aware of such a modus operandi in the digital space of the city but there no cases registered with the police yet regarding the matter,” said Dhananajay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner of police (detection).
“Though there is no evident change noticed in the phone, the Trojan, once viewed has already accessed the back-end functioning of the receiver’s phone,” another police officer said.
“The unknown accused could go through the data on the phone. We will charge any such accused for hacking under the IT Act. In the past few days an awareness message has gone viral on Whatsapp asking people not to accept a video called ‘the dance of the Pope. It is apparently a virus that formats your phone,” Kulkarni added.