WhatsApp adds biometric ID for more secure messaging

Man holding smartphone
Image credit: TechRadar

WhatsApp users just got a little safer, with a new privacy option that requires biometric identification to log into the app.

The feature is currently only on the iOS app, and adds a new feature to the Privacy menu in users' settings. You can now select either 'Require Face ID' or 'Require Touch ID' to turn on facial recognition or fingerprint scanning, meaning you'll be asked for biometric authentication each time you try logging into the WhatsApp iOS app.

Not all smartphones or tablets will support the feature either. (All iPhones support Touch ID from the iPhone 5S, while Face ID was brought in with the iPhone X).  If they do though, you can keep the setting switched off to avoid the hassle of an extra security step.

Biometric ID software should be more secure than a passcode, as your fingerprint and facial structure are both unique to you – but the technology isn't perfect. While Apple's Face ID is viewed as reliable, a recent test by Forbes saw competing software on Android duped by a 3D-printed head.

Finger on the pulse

The new security features come at a time when users are more wary of cybersecurity vulnerabilities than ever. While WhatsApp is already ahead of the curve for a messaging app with end-to-end encryption, the new biometric sign-in should put more of those fears to rest.

Facebook recently announced its plan to integrate the chat services for Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, though we're hoping to see a common level of security across all three apps when it happens. After all, your secure WhatsApp messages won't count for much if they're easier to hack through a different social platform.

Via TechCrunch

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.