Horror stories are an important tradition – and it turns out the world of cybersecurity has plenty to tell. Here are three genuine bone-chillers.

The zombie phone outbreak

With more than 1.5 billion users every month, WhatsApp is by far the world’s most popular messaging service. Available on Android, iOS and other mobile devices, the app connects people across the world – for free.

But in May this year, all 1.5 billion users were potentially compromised after a new malware variant was released. Thought to be the work of Israeli defence contractors, the malware allowed hackers to read messages, access other apps, and even take control of the phone’s camera and microphone.

By turning smartphones into zombie spies, hackers were able to steal an unknown quantity of data belonging to WhatsApp users.

Darkest secrets exposed

Most content posted to the Instagram social network is intended to be shared as widely as possible. But some of the other information collected by Instagram, such as home addresses and phone numbers is not.

As many as 49 million people had their worst dream come true however, when exactly this information was published publicly online. An Indian-based social media marketing company hosted this data on an unprotected database in the cloud, effectively making it available to anyone.

No one is quite sure how much of the data was stolen – or what criminals may do with it.

Momos’s gonna get you

Viral hoaxes don’t tend to cause any lasting damage, but the Momo prank may have changed that. Children were apparently targeted by a creepy video, inviting them to play a game. According to the legend, the players were set a series of increasingly dangerous challenges.

Encouraged by terrifying media headlines, parents and their kids became afraid of Momo videos appearing on their computers and phones. Importantly, no actual cases of the video appearing randomly ever being recorded.

Expect to see the Momo story revived in the near future too – work is already underway on a horror movie called Getaway based on the legend.

Stay safe this Halloween

Each of these security stories plays out like a classic horror movie:

Secret intruders

Malware stays in the shadows and spies on you, playing on your weaknesses – just like the WhatsApp spyware.

General negligence

In horror movies, someone always does something stupid that lets the killer in – a window, a door or a portal to another dimension. Which is exactly what happened when the Instagram data was left exposed in the cloud.

Keep an eye on the kids

Evil is always drawn to kids – which is why the Momo hoax was so effective.

Protect yourself

Want to stay safe this Halloween? Download a free trial of Panda Dome – you can lock the intruders out, prevent negligent data loss and keep your kids safe.

Happy Halloween!