A dangerous WhatsApp trend flares up again and again: special messages cause the app to permanently crash after receipt. In the worst case scenario, all chats are lost. You can do that against it.
Unknown people compose WhatsApp messages with special characters in such a way that the recipient’s app has a problem displaying them. The result is the crash. What may sound like a mean prank at first, can have painful consequences for many users.
Because if you open the app again after the crash, it tries to display the malicious character string again – and crashes again immediately, the app is therefore unusable and in many cases has to be deleted from the mobile phone and reinstalled. The problem with this is that anyone who has not previously backed up their chat history will lose all their messages.
How to protect yourself
The problem with these attacks is that it is difficult for users to protect themselves against them: once such a message has landed on the cell phone, it is already too late. The most important precaution is therefore to check whether there is actually a current backup of your own chats. How it works, See here.
Another safety precaution is to only allow invitations in groups from your own contacts. So you cannot end up in dubious WhatsApp groups without your own action, where such messages could be sent. Incidentally, this can be easily regulated via the app settings under Account> Data protection> Groups. Instead of “Everyone”, it is better to select “My contacts”.
Recipients of a WhatsApp bomb have this chance
If, on the other hand, you have already received a WhatsApp bomb, there is at least a chance for some users to get away with it without harm: If you use WhatsApp via web client or via the Windows or Mac app, you can chat safely here open and delete the dangerous message. Then you should block the number from which you received the message so that the problem cannot recur immediately. As You can find out how to use WhatsApp directly on your PC here.
If the message is deleted this way, the app can also be opened again. However, the session must already be active in the web client or on the desktop apps. This does not work afterwards – because the app is also required for authorization.
The Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp tries to ward off the nasty attacks with regular updates. “As with any tech product, we strongly advise our users to keep their WhatsApp app and mobile operating system up to date and to download updates as they become available,” said a spokesman. The regular updates “defuse” known text bombs. However, experience shows that it does not take long before the next text bomb is set in the world.