Genius WhatsApp feature could save you from serious danger – how it works

WHATSAPP is rolling out a new tool that further protects those who use its messaging service on the web.

The security feature, which takes the form of a free browser extension, verifies the code of WhatsApp Web to ensure it's authentic.

It's designed to shield chatters from cyber attacks that break into people's WhatsApp accounts using phoney websites.

The tool was announced Thursday by Cloudflare, a web security firm that partnered with WhatsApp to develop the technology.

"How do you know the code your web browser downloads when visiting a website is the code the website intended you to run?" the company said.

"In contrast to a mobile app downloaded from a trusted app store, the web doesn’t provide the same degree of assurance that the code hasn’t been tampered with.

"Today, we’re excited to be partnering with WhatsApp to provide a system that assures users that the code run when they visit WhatsApp on the web is the code that WhatsApp intended."

The vast majority of WhatsApp's two billion users send messages over the hugely popular Android and iOS apps.

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However, the chat platform also works on computer-based extensions of the WhatsApp account on your phone.

The messages you send and receive are synced between your phone and computer, and you can see your messages on both devices.

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Using phoney websites sent via text or email that look like WhatsApp's login page, it's possible for cybercrooks to steal people's credentials.

The new browser extension, called Code Verify, scans the code of the WhatsApp login page to ensure it's legitimate.

A traffic light system lets you know if you're fine to login or if something is amiss.

It makes WhatsApp Web more secure and protects users from phishing attacks.

The attacks lure victims to a website that appears to be operated by a trusted entity, such as a bank or social media platform.

The website, however, is phoney with fake content designed to persuade a victim to enter sensitive information, like a password or email address.

Analysts said that Code Verify is a step in the right direction but urged WhatsApp to roll out a similar version for its mobile apps.

Around two billion people use WhatsApp every month but only a small proportion access it via their PCs.

"This is a major step forward in combatting the fast-moving uptake in SMS phishing (smishing) often used to manipulate victims into thinking they are speaking to a familiar contact," said Jake Moore, Jake Moore, Global Cyber Security Advisor at cybersecurity firm ESET.

"However, when the majority of WhatsApp users are mobile devices rather than using the browser version, it seems odd not to push this verification update onto mobile users too.

"It is possible to add two-step verification on WhatsApp but it isn’t turned on by default.

"It can stop attackers attempting to hijack your account and claiming to be you to your contacts so it is vital that all users implement this security feature from within the Account settings ASAP."

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