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Guy from Manipur goes to Facebook ‘Hall of Fame’ for reporting WhatsApp bug

A man from Manipur, India has been awarded $5000 by Facebook for successfully reporting a WhatsApp bug that could compromise the privacy of the user. According to Zonel Sougaijam, the bug in the popular social media app often allowed the caller to transform a voice call into a video call without the receiver being aware of the same.

The above also happened without the explicit authorisation of the receiver, with the caller even getting to see and hear what the receiver is up to for the duration of the call. Sougaijam said he reported the matter to the Facebook Bug Bounty Program, the Facebook entity that deals with matters related to privacy.

Sougaijam also added the Facebook security department took immediate cognizance of his finding and he received an acknowledgement the very next day itself. Thereafter, it took another about 15 – 20 days for the bug to be fixed.
Sougaijam’s feat not only earned him a handsome reward of $5000 from Facebook, but his exploits also earned him a place in the Facebook Hall of Fame. Currently, the 22-year old civil engineer has found himself at the 16th spot in the list comprising of 94 people for this year so far.

The WhatsApp messaging platform has a billion plus user base the world over. It also is the one that prides over its privacy and security features and is among the first to introduce end-to-end encryption feature to safeguard all its chat messages from just about anyone, even Facebook.

All of that makes one wonder how could a loophole so glaring manage to evade the prying eyes of the company’s own security team. Facebook has been owning and operating the messaging platform since 2014 and one reason for its immense popularity has been its water-tight security features. No wonder, the last thing anyone would ever want to see is the messaging app being affected by such bugs.

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Facebook lauded Sougaijam’s effort and also announced the $5000 reward but hasn’t stated how the bug managed to go undetected this far. Fortunately for the over billion WhatsApp users, it has already been taken care of with due diligence.