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HomeFact CheckFinancial/Online ScamsDebunking the Seismic Waves Card: Can It Really Hack Your Phone in...

Debunking the Seismic Waves Card: Can It Really Hack Your Phone in Seconds? 

Authors

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Ruby leads editorial, operations and initiatives at Newschecker. In her former avatar at New Delhi Television (NDTV), India’s leading national news network, she was a news anchor, supervising producer and senior output editor. Her over a decade-long career encompasses ground-breaking reportage from conflict zones and reporting on terror incidents, election campaigns, and gender issues. Ruby is an Emmy-nominated producer and has handled both local and international assignments, including the coverage of Arab Spring in 2011, the US Presidential elections in 2016, and ground reportage on the Kashmir issue since 2009.

Claim: File called Seismic Waves CARD, allegedly circulated as photos of Morocco earthquake, will hack your phone in 10 seconds

Fact: The viral claim regarding the  ‘Seismic Waves Card’ files’ ability to hack your phone in ten seconds appears to be unfounded and should be regarded as a baseless rumour . There is no such malware or browser hack. However, we do not support clicking any unknown links or attachments.

Following the tragic earthquake in Morocco, a surge of false information has swept across the internet, with the latest rumor surrounding the so-called ‘Seismic Waves Card.’ 

This mysterious file is purportedly capable of hacking your phone within seconds of being opened, a claim that has gone viral on social media platforms, especially WhatsApp, where users are cautioning one another against opening this file.

The warning circulating on social media reads: “They are going to upload some photos of the Moroccan earthquake on WhatsApp. The file is called Seismic Waves CARD, don’t open it and see it, it will hack your phone in 10 seconds and it cannot be stopped in any way. Share the information with your family and friends. DO NOT OPEN IT. They also said it on TV”.

Newschecker has received numerous requests via our WhatsApp tipline (+91 9999499044) to fact-check this viral message.  

Debunking the Seismic Waves Card: Can It Really Hack Your Phone in Seconds? 
Screengrab of the request received on Newschecker’s WhatsApp tipline

Here’s what we discovered during our fact-check.

Also Read: Ronaldo Opens Up Morocco Hotel For Earthquake Victims? Viral Claim Is False

(Please note that we do not support clicking any unknown links or attachments)

Fact check/Verification

Newschecker began by conducting a keyword search on Google using the term ‘Seismic waves card’ which yielded several search results. However, there was no concrete proof to substantiate the existence of such a malware or browser hack.

It  is also pertinent to note that the message refers to a ‘forward’ that no one has seen or read. It is alarmist in nature and fits into the classic template of fake news. 

One of the top results, an article by tech news firm Tech Arp has labelled the claim a hoax. 

According to their report, “The Seismic Waves Card is an Internet hoax that keeps getting recycled for every earthquake that comes along.” The reports cite instances of similar messages that have gone viral in context of other earthquakes that happened in the recent past, such as the recent earthquake in El Calvario, Colombia. 

Furthermore, the viral message claims that photos are shared on WhatsApp, and that opening them will lead to your phone being hacked within ten seconds. 

In reality, photos sent on WhatsApp are transmitted as image files. Even if you were to download an image, it would not trigger any hacks since hacks typically require some user interaction to occur. 

The Tech Arp article explains that while it is possible to embed malicious code within a photo using a technique called digital steganography, this would not result in a full-fledged malware that can execute by itself. “At most, it can be used to hide the malware payload from antivirus scanners,… but it cannot hack your smartphone by itself,” the article on Tech Arp notes. 

Additionally, it is important to note that malicious codes execution happens instantaneously and does not require a specific time frame as the viral message claims. There have been no credible reports or mentions of such a hack on television either, contrary to what the viral message suggests.

For further insights, we reached out to Hitesh Dharamdasani, cybersecurity expert, who confirmed that the viral message appears to be fake and dubious. “Generally such messages have a call to action, and are sent with the purpose of distributing malware,”  he said, also noting that the absence of any attachment in the message raises suspicions about its legitimacy. 

However, please note that we do not support clicking any unknown links or attachments.

Conclusion

The viral claim regarding the  ‘Seismic Waves Card’ files’ ability to hack your phone in ten seconds appears to be unfounded and should be regarded as a baseless rumour . There is no such malware or browser hack.  

Rating: False

Our Sources
Report published on TechArp, on September 12, 2023
Report published on ESEuro, on September 11, 2023
Telephone conversation with Hitesh Dharamdasani, Cyber Security Expert


If you would like us to fact-check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044 or email us at checkthis@newschecker.in. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill out the form.

Authors

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Ruby leads editorial, operations and initiatives at Newschecker. In her former avatar at New Delhi Television (NDTV), India’s leading national news network, she was a news anchor, supervising producer and senior output editor. Her over a decade-long career encompasses ground-breaking reportage from conflict zones and reporting on terror incidents, election campaigns, and gender issues. Ruby is an Emmy-nominated producer and has handled both local and international assignments, including the coverage of Arab Spring in 2011, the US Presidential elections in 2016, and ground reportage on the Kashmir issue since 2009.

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