Did you know ? WhatsApp chats can be more protected

WhatsApp provides additional options to protect the privacy of your chats. The idea is to lock conversations if your smartphone is taken from you, willingly or by force.

WhatsApp has offered end-to-end encryption by default since 2016, based on the Signal protocol. With this mechanism, adopted by other instant messaging services aimed at the general public (Google Messages, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc.), exchanges between participants are only visible to those in the conversation.

If the Signal protocol is praised by cryptography specialists, there are circumstances in which this protection disappears. Not because of an intrinsic defect, but because the smartphone itself may no longer be “secure”. If it is unlocked, for example, end-to-end encryption no longer plays any role.

Indeed, its main task is to protect conversations between terminals admitted to the discussion. The exchanges must therefore be decrypted on legitimate devices to make them readable and understandable. However, a third party who has access to one of these mobiles could launch the WhatsApp application on the screen, then browse the discussions of their choice, without restriction.

WhatsApp protects conversations with end-to-end encryption.  // Source: Melvyn Dadure for Numerama
The schematic principle of end-to-end encryption. // Source: Numerama

Of course, this requires first having access to the mobile in question. However, this is a plausible scenario in which end-to-end encryption is not suitable protection. You must then rely on the phone lock, if there is one. This is why WhatsApp had the idea of ​​offering new “end of chain” security options.

This project was presented this spring and the idea is childish: it involves locking certain conversations so that they can only be opened on the condition of validating the biometric unlocking of the phone. And, therefore, only the person who owns the smartphone can unlock the discussions in question, because the biometric parameters are necessarily based on them.

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The famous Mind blown meme.  // Source: Via YouTube gregsteeThe famous Mind blown meme.  // Source: Via YouTube gregstee

Lock chats on WhatsApp

  • Long press on a conversation, with your finger, to select it;
  • Tap the vertical ellipsis at the top right of the screen;
  • In the menu that appears, choose “Lock Chat”;
  • Confirm the lock using your fingerprint.
Source: ScreenshotSource: Screenshot
The main stages. // Source: Screenshot

The selected conversation then “disappears” from the chat list. To find it, go back to the top of the WhatsApp screen. You will then see a line named “locked chats”. This is where it is located. To open this section, you must unlock it with your fingerprint. The icon will then come to life briefly to validate access.

It is in this section that you will find the list of locked discussions. Note that as soon as you leave it, the lock is automatically reset. Ditto if you no longer display the application on the screen, even briefly. A message will remind you of this. Finally, you can increase security even more by asking to hide these locked chats.

Hide your locked conversations

To do this, you have an option to activate, via the vertical ellipsis. This is the subject of WhatsApp’s announcement of November 30, 2023. This completes the system introduced from this spring. With this secret code, the aim is to make them even more difficult to find if a third party accesses the phone or if it is lent to someone.

Source: ScreenshotSource: Screenshot
We can go further by hiding locked discussions. // Source: Screenshot

This secret code actually consists of a password to be defined, which we advise you to make unique and strong (and if you are afraid of forgetting it, you can consider using a password manager) and, importantly, different from the one you use to unlock the phone. If this is compromised or has been given, it is absurd to hope that it will then act as a barrier.

This code will be entered in the search bar. Doing so will bring up the locked chats folder. This is a good way to hide from others the very fact that there is a secret folder containing locked chats. You will indeed have to type this password to display it. Suffice to say that the chances are quite slim.

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Source: WhatsAppSource: WhatsApp

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