WhatsApp developers are now sharing warnings to its users regarding a potentially problematic bug that is crashing the system. Some tech pundits liken it to a 2018 issue wherein people received a message with an emoji of a black dot with a finger pointed at it and a text that reads "can't touch this." The latest one is sent as a message or a Virtual Contact File (VCF) and apparently follows the same concept as the former wherein a string of special characters renders the app unusable.
Even after users exit, restart, or power cycle their devices, the moment they attempt to launch WhatsApp it will immediately crash. So far, the only solution if the application has been compromised is to uninstall and reinstall the communications client all over again. This bug was reported by Wabetainfo which also noted that the source of these malicious codes appears to located in Brazil. In fact, sources from the country also acknowledged its widespread impact among users.
For those who receive the VCF version of the message, the file supposedly contains around 100 contacts. However, the registered names are once again special characters that WhatsApp cannot process and therefore ultimately crash. A workaround suggested by a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy Ray Walsh is simple but could protect people who regularly rely on the app for communication.
Walsh said: "To help protect themselves all WhatsApp users should go into their settings to change 'Who can add me to groups' from 'Everyone' to 'My Contacts', as this will reduce the risk of being added to a group used to pass over the malevolent message." Another alternative is to use the web application to delete the message and block the sender.
On the other hand, a Twitter user called @Ian_Oli_01 posted: "Anti crash integrated into official WhatsApp: There are messages designed to freeze or crash your WhatsApp. Then there are modded WhatsApp versions that have a "Crashcode protection" like a bigger Unicode database. We need this integrated into the official application."
A spokesperson from the company confirmed that a patch has been released to hopefully address the issue. WhatsApp users are encouraged to keep their devices and applications updated regularly to ensure that all the bug fixes are included.