Security and privacy have become rising concerns throughout the digital landscape. News of cyberattacks occurs on a near-daily basis. One of the most popular messaging apps, WhatsApp, has noted the surge of threats and introduced several new features to enhance security.
WhatsApp, currently owned by Meta, has long taken proactive measures to keep users safe. For instance, in May 2019, hackers targeted the video calling feature on the app to send malware to users. WhatsApp developers took fast action. Extra security measures stopped the attacks from becoming more widespread.
Security Updates for WhatsApp
The following are the latest enhancements to protect WhatsApp users from security threats:
Meta has introduced Locked Chats, a feature that adds an extra layer of protection to specific conversations. This feature helps users to secure their private chats with a fingerprint, face ID, or passcode. The practice ensures that sensitive information remains confidential—even if someone gains unauthorized access to the device or account.
IP Address Protection in Calls
When you make calls through WhatsApp, both users can view IP addresses. According to Meta, IP addresses must be shared. This enables a direct connection for improved call quality and faster processing. The downside of sharing IP addresses is the other caller can view ISP and geographical information you may wish to keep private.
A new feature within WhatsApp settings allows for IP address protection. When turned on, all calls go through the WhatsApp servers to prevent contacts from seeing your actual location.
Silence Unknown Callers
Cyberattacks often exploit vulnerabilities in communication software to launch attacks, even if the call is unanswered—as in the 2019 malware attack. To address this issue, WhatsApp has introduced Silence Unknown Callers. This feature ensures that calls from unknown numbers do not ring the user’s phone—significantly reducing the risk of potential cyberattacks.
The protocol features a tool known as privacy tokens. Each WhatsApp user decides which caller can be trusted and assigns a token to them. You’ll only receive calls from contacts with the privacy tokens attached.
VPN to Enhance Security on WhatsApp
As we can see from the WhatsApp example, cyberattacks are increasingly common. It’s crucial for individuals to safeguard their privacy. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an effective tool that protects your online activities. It can also further enhance the security of messaging apps like WhatsApp.
What Is a VPN, and How Does It Work?
A VPN is a service that allows users to create a secure and encrypted connection to the internet. It works by routing your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel. This hides your IP address and encrypts data.
Use VPN connections whenever you go online to stay protected. Once you subscribe to a VPN service, you connect securely through a simple-to-navigate interface. VPNs offer a high level of security when using public Wi-Fi or when traveling out of the country.
The Role of VPNs in Enhancing WhatsApp Security
You can use a VPN while communicating with contracts through WhatsApp to:
- Keep IP addresses confidential. Similar to the Protect IP Address setting newly released through Meta, a VPN will hide your IP address.
- Encrypt your messages and calls on the app. If someone tries to intercept your messages, they can’t read the content.
- Circumvent any geographical restrictions. Some countries may have restrictions on messaging apps like WhatsApp. With a VPN, you connect to a server in a different location where WhatsApp is permitted.
- Stop data throttling. Internet service providers sometimes throttle or slow down certain types of internet traffic, including WhatsApp calls and messages. Using a VPN prevents ISPs from detecting and throttling your WhatsApp activities.
Additional Tips for WhatsApp Security
While using a VPN does provide extra security for WhatsApp, here are some additional safety tips:
- Enable two-factor identification
- Never accept messages or calls from unknown contacts
- Use a strong password
- Change your password every three months
- Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information through WhatsApp
WhatsApp has committed to improving online security by continuously updating available tools and settings on the messaging app. Introducing locked chats, silencing unknown callers, and protecting IP addresses can help keep users safe while messaging on the app, but it cannot guarantee complete protection. With a VPN and good online security practices, you will have the best chance of protecting your data while on WhatsApp.