Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has announced a new security update for WhatsApp Web and the desktop app. WhatsApp said that it is adding an additional layer of protection when users want to link their WhatsApp account to a computer. To do this, WhatsApp will take advantage of your face or fingerprint unlock where it is available on the mobile operating system.
From now on, in order to link WhatsApp Web or Desktop to your WhatsApp account, users will be asked to use their face or fingerprint unlock on their smartphones, before scanning a QR code from the smartphone to link the device. “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 explained in a release.
As with everything related to WhatsApp in 2021, the Facebook-owned messaging platform clarified that it does not store any biometric information, and that – by design – it cannot access those details from a smartphone's operating system. "The face and fingerprint authentication takes place on your device in a privacy preserving manner - by design, WhatsApp cannot access the biometric information stored by your device's operating system."
Further, WhatsApp also said that the new security update for linking devices will be rolling out, alongside a visual redesign to the WhatsApp Web page on phones, to users with compatible devices over the coming weeks.