Your WhatsApp Web chats are much more secure, thanks to a tweak to iPhone and Android apps – Express

Your WhatsApp Web chats are much more secure, thanks to a tweak to iPhone and Android apps – Express

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WhatsApp has added an important security feature to make logging into WhatsApp Web more secure. For those who don’t know, WhatsApp Web lets chat app users send and receive text messages, images, and documents from their web browser – allowing them to keep in touch without constantly reaching into their pocket for their smartphone.
Until now, anyone with access to WhatsApp could sign-in to WhatsApp Web using the QR code scanner built into the chat app on Android and iOS. However, parent company Facebook has tightened up security with its latest update to the world’s most popular chat app, which boasts more 2 billion users globally. Following the update, WhatsApp users will need to confirm their identity using the built-in biometric authentication features included with their handset, these usually take the form of a fingerprint or face scanner.
Once WhatsApp is able to verify that it’s really you, it will unlock the QR scanner, which allows anyone to bring their text messages to a web browser by visiting web.whatsapp.com.
Interestingly, this isn’t an optional new feature. Instead, once you’ve updated to the latest software version on Android or iOS, WhatsApp will enable this extra security step by default. This makes a certain amount of sense. After all, once you’re logged into WhatsApp Web, it’s possible to trawl back through your entire chat history, search for specific mention of words or names, and download pictures and videos from your conversations. That’s a lot of personal data. So, by verifying that it’s definitely you requesting access, WhatsApp should be able to stop pranksters and bad actors from accessing every message you’ve ever sent in WhatsApp in their Chrome, Safari or Microsoft Edge web browser.
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The latest update is likely to make a number of unofficial third-party WhatsApp clients, like those available for macOS, Windows and iPad, more painful to use. That’s because these aren’t native applications designed for the platforms they’re running on. Since WhatsApp is tied to your phone number and SIM card, it’s not possible to be logged in to multiple apps at once – like you’re able to do with the likes of Signal, iMessage, and Messenger. Instead, these apps are merely wrappers that access WhatsApp Web, which requires your smartphone to be turned on to work.
Whether the new security feature will require users to keep scanning their fingertips and faces to stay logged in to these unofficial WhatsApp apps remains to be seen.
As an extra security measure, WhatsApp will now send a notification to your iPhone or Android chat app whenever somebody logs into your account on WhatsApp Web or using one of these computer apps (WhatsApp itself makes one of these WhatsApp Web wrappers, which is available for free on the Mac App Store). If someone you don’t recognise has logged into your account using WhatsApp Web, the mobile apps lets you log-out any web browser with a single tap.
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The news comes amid a fierce row over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which was scheduled to come into effect next month – but has now been delayed by three months by parent company Facebook following a backlash from users who believed the small-print would allow the social network to siphon more data from users for its behemoth advertising network.

WhatsApp has issued a clarification, stating that UK and European users won’t see any difference, while those living in other parts of the world can only expect data from conversations with businesses and enterprise accounts within WhatsApp. Both of these use-cases are completely optional.
That doesn’t seem to have quelled much of the unease, with unconfirmed statistics from third-party App Store monitoring services claiming that millions of WhatsApp users have ditched the service in response to the new policy, which users have to agree to in order to keep using the chat app. Secure messaging rivals, including Signal and Telegram, have both reported a surge of millions of new users in the last few weeks.
Both are looking to capitalise on the fall-out, with Signal adding a number of features that will be familiar to WhatsApp users in a sizeable new update, while Telegram has announced plans to add an automatic contact import feature to its messaging app to help seamlessly transition from rival apps.
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