Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

WhatsApp has identified an "advanced security flaw" in its messaging service that allowed hackers to install spyware onto phones, the Facebook-owned company confirmed Monday, as it urged its 1.5 billion users to update the latest app version.

Why matters: The Financial Times first reported the vulnerability was developed by NSO Group. The Israeli security firm has been accused of supplying tools for spying on rights groups and journalists, including the slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Amnesty International is launching legal action to get NSO Group's export license withdrawn in Israel. NSO Group denies any wrongdoing.

Details: WhatsApp told the BBC its security team first identified the flaw and shared details with rights groups, the Department of Justice and others this month. Phones became infected with sophisticated spyware via a missed in-app call.

The big picture: The company said the issue affected a "select number of users" and the fix was rolled out Friday, per the BBC.

"The attack has all the hallmarks of a private company reportedly that works with governments to deliver spyware that takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems."
— WhatsApp briefing note to journalists.

The other side: NSO Group said in a statement to media outlets the company was investigating the issue. "Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies," it said.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 32,694,155 — Total deaths: 991,273 — Total recoveries: 22,575,658Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 7,074,155 — Total deaths: 204,461 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
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  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

What they're saying: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Democratic and Republican lawmakers along with other leading political figures reacted to President Trump's Saturday afternoon nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

What they're saying: "President Trump could not have made a better decision," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. "Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States."

Amy Coney Barrett: "Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me"

Trump introduces Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo: Olivier Douleiry/Getty Images

In speaking after President Trump announced her as the Supreme Court nominee to replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett said on Saturday she will be "mindful" of those who came before her on the court if confirmed.

What she's saying: Barrett touched on Ginsburg's legacy, as well as her own judicial philosophy and family values. "I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution," she said. "I'm truly humbled at the prospect of serving on the  Supreme Court."

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