WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging and voice app, has announced a new security improvement to better protect your chats. For months, WhatsApp has been using end-to-end encryption for all messages sent to other users of the application. This ensures that no one but the person you send a message to — and who’s in possession of your device — can read it. Now WhatsApp has made it even more difficult for anyone other than you and the person you’re chatting with to read messages by including an “unseen” label on any chats that have not yet been delivered or opened by recipients.
Previous Security Features
The WhatsApp security updates have improved over the last couple of years. In addition to WhatsApp encrypted backups messages, WhatsApp can also detect when a message has been tampered with and notify the sender. And it also sends proof-of-live when you try to delete a message that someone else has read. All these security measures have been in place for some time now, but WhatsApp says that it’s now making another change to help improve communication across its platform.
The New Feature
With the new “unseen” messaging feature, WhatsApp is shifting its focus from simply protecting text conversations to the more important task of ensuring that users can’t intercept and read images and videos. By default, WhatsApp automatically leaves “unseen” on text messages — meaning only you and the person you sent the message to can unread or read it. But if you want to tell someone else to read it, they’ll be able to do so by clicking an existing recipient in their phone’s list.
WhatsApp has created an HSM (hardware security module) chip to help encrypt messages when they are in transit. The HSM chip is located between the modem and the access point in each user’s phone. It also rules out fake basebands that have been used to intercept messages in the past. Since WhatsApp is not using encryption solely for transport, there is no risk of message interception by the network operator or the device manufacturer.
The new WhatsApp security improvement messaging feature is designed to ensure that you and the person you’re talking to can communicate in complete privacy, and it shows WhatsApp is serious about protecting its users’ privacy. The company has done a great job in developing the security model and hardware solution for this feature, and we hope it continues to be deployed in future versions of the app.