In a bid to bolster user privacy, Meta-owned WhatsApp has introduced a new Secret Code feature, elevating the security of sensitive conversations. This innovative addition allows users to set a custom password for specific chats, creating an extra layer of protection beyond the device password or biometrics. With the aim of making locked chats even more discreet, users can opt to hide the Locked Chats folder from the chat list, ensuring it remains accessible only by entering the secret code in the search bar.
French Government’s Security Concerns Ignite Controversy
This development follows the recent advisory by the French government urging officials to abstain from using popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. The government suggested adopting homegrown alternatives such as Tchap and Olvid by December 8, 2023, citing security vulnerabilities in foreign apps. However, Signal’s president, Meredith Whittaker, and WhatsApp’s head, Will Cathcart, strongly opposed the claim, asserting the security measures implemented by their respective platforms.
Meta-owned WhatsApp Reinforces Privacy with “Protect IP Address in Calls” Feature
In a continuous effort to prioritize user privacy, Meta-owned WhatsApp is rolling out a new privacy feature called “Protect IP Address in Calls.” This feature masks users’ IP addresses during calls by relaying them through WhatsApp servers. Despite a slight dip in call quality, the end-to-end encryption ensures that WhatsApp cannot eavesdrop on the conversations. The feature is designed to thwart attempts by malicious actors to discern a user’s location during calls.
Silence Unknown Callers and Privacy Token Implementation
Building on its commitment to privacy, WhatsApp is introducing the “Silence Unknown Callers” feature. This not only protects users from unwanted calls but also minimizes the risk of zero-click attacks and spyware. The implementation involves a custom protocol using a privacy token, ensuring the server remains oblivious to the specific relationship between the caller and recipient. This adds an additional layer of security, deterring attackers from exploiting the calling feature.
WhatsApp Mods Pose Security Threat with CanesSpy
Cybersecurity researchers have identified a potential security threat in modified versions of WhatsApp for Android, equipped with a spyware module named CanesSpy. These unofficial versions are distributed through sketchy websites and Telegram channels, primarily targeting Arabic and Azerbaijani speakers. The spyware activates upon device startup, sending sensitive information to a command-and-control server. WhatsApp strongly warns against using unofficial versions, emphasizing the risks they pose to user privacy and security.
Legal Action Against Unofficial WhatsApp Apps
WhatsApp’s battle against unofficial versions extends to legal action. Last year, the company filed a lawsuit against developers in China and Taiwan for distributing unofficial WhatsApp apps compromising over a million user accounts. The prevalence of these mods in third-party app stores and Telegram channels underscores the need for users to prioritize security over popularity.
In conclusion, Meta-owned WhatsApp continues to innovate in the realm of privacy and security, introducing features like Secret Code and Protect IP Address in Calls. While the pushback from governments and the discovery of spyware-laden mods highlight challenges, WhatsApp remains steadfast in its commitment to user protection.
Thanks & Regards:Ashwini Kamble