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WhatsApp Adds Biometric Security Layer for Web, Desktop App Linking

Before users link their WhatsApp accounts to their computer, they will be asked to authenticate using fingerprint or Face ID.

WhatsApp Adds Biometric Security Layer for Web, Desktop App Linking

WhatsApp will be rolling out the new security layer in the coming weeks

Highlights
  • WhatsApp will also introduce a redesign for WhatsApp Web for phone
  • WhatsApp to use Face ID or fingerprint scanner, depending on the phone
  • WhatsApp says that it doesn’t store biometric information of the user

WhatsApp is adding another security layer for WhatsApp Web and desktop app linking and logging in. Before users link their WhatsApp accounts to their computer, they will be asked to authenticate using fingerprint or Face ID. This additional layer of security is aimed at preventing others from linking your WhatsApp account to the computer without your presence. WhatsApp says that the face and fingerprint authentication takes place on the user's mobile phone in a privacy-preserving manner and WhatsApp cannot access the biometric information stored on the handset's operating system.

The company announced that it is adding an extra security layer on its mobile app to prevent unethical use of WhatsApp on the desktop. In order to link WhatsApp Web or desktop app to a WhatsApp account, users will now be asked to use face or fingerprint unlock on the phone. Once this step is done, users can then access the QR code scanner from the phone that will then complete the linking process with the computer.

“This will limit the chance that a housemate or officemate (when we have those again) can link devices to your WhatsApp account without you. This builds on our existing security measures today, which pop up a notice in your phone whenever a Web/Desktop login occurs, and the ability to unlink devices from your phone at any time,” WhatsApp explains in an official release.

The app says that it does not store biometric information, and that – by design – it cannot access those details from a phone's operating system. WhatsApp says that this new security layer will be rolling out in the coming weeks. A visual redesign to WhatsApp Web pages on phones will also be introduced in the weeks to come.

WhatsApp was at the centre of a controversy regarding its privacy policy update wherein it forced users to accept the new terms or ban usage if not accepted. This caused a huge uproar among users, pushing people to shift to other platforms like Signal and Telegram. The company has since withdrawn its privacy policy update and has set a later date for it.


Does WhatsApp's new privacy policy spell the end for your privacy? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com. More
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