WhatsApp has become one of the easiest and fastest ways to communicate. However, if you share confidential information on the app, you need to be keen about your device’s security.
Anyone who masters your lock pattern or PIN can easily read your messages and misuse the information therein.
Sometimes you just forget to lock your device when the automatic lock is deactivated.
You can now keep your WhatsApp messages private with the new security feature. The upgrade enables you to secure your messages with your fingerprint.
Your fingerprint is unique and perhaps the safest way to secure your phone data.
WhatsApp is not testing the biometric authentication for the first time. The feature was first tested with iPhones in February (2019).
iPhone users have been enjoying both the fingerprint lock and facial recognition safety measures.
How to activate the fingerprint lock feature
For Android phone users, the fingerprint lock/unlock is now accessible via the WhatsApp settings.
You must activate the feature to enjoy the upgraded privacy. Here is the process:
1. Open WhatsApp (You may need to install or upgrade the app it in a new Android device)
2. Open the app’s Settings
3. Click on Account
4. Select Privacy
5. Select the Fingerprint lock option
You will need to confirm your fingerprint when you select this option. In addition, you can select the duration within which the app will automatically lock.
For instance, you can choose to activate the automatic fingerprint lock immediately after closing the app. You can also choose a longer duration like a minute or half an hour.
It all depends on how often you use the app or your current chat sessions.
If you cannot trust your friends or colleagues, it is safer to activate the automatic fingerprint lock immediately after closing the app.
Another security measure that comes with the fingerprint lock is the ability to control the content of WhatsApp notifications.
Most devices give a preview of a new message including the sender’s identity.
Sometimes the preview is the full message from the sender. Your friends can view the message even without unlocking your device or opening the app.
With the upgraded privacy, you can control the content of the notifications that the app gives.
The new security features were tested in Android beta in August and will soon be available on all Android platforms.
The new privacy feature has come at a time when the world is concerned about spyware that targeted WhatsApp users in India.
Pegasus spyware is NSO technology that extracts private data without the knowledge of phone users.
The politics that surround the Indian election are deemed to have prompted the Israeli firm to launch Pegasus in India.
The spyware sends WhatsApp users a link. If you click on it, Pegasus is automatically installed on your device.
You will view the information on the link without realising the security breach beneath the link.
Once the spyware is installed, it extracts data on your device. The developers are interested in your events, contacts, messages, passwords and call log.
Pegasus developers have managed to introduce the spyware to more than 45 countries. India has faced the security breach for the second time.
NSO claims that it developed the spyware three years ago to sell to governments. However, there are concerns that the technology has been misused.
In the case of India, questions arise on the authority to use the spyware to extract data from activists, journalists, and lawyers in an election year.
As a WhatsApp user, you need to be careful with the links you open on the app.
The titles of the links and videos we receive on WhatsApp are irresistible. However, clicking on the links could be the doorway to malware into your device.
Concerns about Cyber Crimes
While Pegasus is no secret to governments, the greatest concern is if the operators have licensed criminals to use the technology.
The same concerns arise about WhatsApp privacy settings.
The current encryption technology ensures that only the two people chatting on the app can read or access the conversation.
The system works for users but not for the police trying to track and stop crimes in time.
It is impossible for law administrators to read encrypted messages on the platform. This means that criminals can communicate on WhatsApp and plan crimes that the police cannot decode.
The new security feature makes it even harder for security forces to track and stop cyber crimes.
Unless the criminal is caught, reading messages on the criminal’s phone will be impossible.
To some security experts, communication platforms like WhatsApp are easy places for criminals to hide and talk.
However, the security concerns do not eliminate that need for app developers to provide the best security measures to users.
While the information shared on social platforms may be inaccessible to strangers, the operators can access the data from their servers.
The police can request for records of chats for specific numbers when investigating a crime.
App developers in Kenya and elsewhere around the world care about the data security of their users. Developers will go out of their way to outsmart cybercriminals with new security features. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has given users a new layer of data security. It is up to the users to activate the settings.
The same applies to malware links that cybercriminals send to app users. You can reduce cyber-attacks significantly by ignoring suspicious links on all social platforms on your device.