22 year old Indian man awarded USD 5000 by Facebook for detecting a WhatsApp bug

Popular social media platform Facebook has honoured a man from Manipur, India for discovering a WhatsApp bug that violated the privacy of a user.


Zonel Sougaijam, a 22-year-old civil engineer, said that the social media giant awarded USD 5000 to him and also included him in the “Facebook Hall of Fame 2019”, for detecting the WhatsApp bug.

Mr Sougaijam’s name is currently at the 16th position in a list of 94 people, in the “Facebook Hall of Fame” for this year.

“During a voice call through WhatsApp, the bug used to allow the caller to upgrade it to a video call without the authorisation and knowledge of the receiver. The caller was then able to see what the other person was doing, violating the privacy of the receiver,” Mr Sougaijam said according to NDTV.

After discovering the bug, Mr Sougaijam said, he had reported the matter to the Bug Bounty Program of the Facebook, which deals with the violation of privacy matters, in March 2019.

He said his report was acknowledged by the Facebook Security team the very next day and its technical department fixed the bug within 15-20 days.

“After reviewing this issue, we have decided to award you a bounty of USD 5000,” Facebook said in an e-mail sent to Mr Sougaijam. The man said he found his name in the Facebook “Hall of Fame” page this month.

As reported by The Sauce in May 2019, hackers were able to remotely install surveillance software on phones and other devices using a major vulnerability in messaging app WhatsApp.

It involved attackers using WhatsApp’s voice calling the function to ring a target’s device. Even if the call was not picked up, the surveillance software would be installed and the call would often disappear from the device’s call log.

Facebook, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, purchased the messaging service WhatsApp for a staggering 19 billion USD in February 2014.

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