There are several applications that one can install on their smartphone regardless of whichever platform they are on (Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows…) to restrict access to certain apps to only when a password or PIN is provided.
Some application developers have even gone an extra step to include similar features in their applications. Apps like Safaricom M-Ledger, KCB Mobile Banking and Tala, for instance, request a 4-digit PIN every time you launch them. Guess which major app will be going that route soon as it seeks to enhance its privacy credentials? WhatsApp.
Such a move will be a big plus to the Facebook-owned popular messaging app more so in the wake of the blowback occasioned by Google’s decision to force users to choose between convenience and privacy in what was supposed to be a killer new age chat app, Allo. Not that WhatsApp has not endured its fair share of privacy concerns since it was acquired by Facebook 2 years ago. Its latest move to grant Facebook access to sensitive user data in order to make better friend suggestions and serve up the right ads was met by scores of concerns for user privacy with many advising others to not opt in to the arrangement.
Back in April, WhatsApp began encrypting all chats end to end but as I noted back then, ultimately, security starts with you. By offering an easy way through which every WhatsApp user can add an extra layer of protection to their WhatsApp chats in case a third party happened to pick their device, WhatsApp will be calming a lot of nerves.
Like the dreaded Android lock screen patterns and PINs, adding passcode protection to an app used by over a billion people regularly presents another kind of risk: users being locked out of their WhatsApp accounts if they forget their passcodes. To avert this, WhatsApp is reportedly exploring the idea of optionally allowing users to add email addresses through which they can recover any forgotten passcodes.
Normally, this is where I remind all WhatsApp users how this has always been a feature on rival feature-rich messaging app Telegram for like forever (one can even set up a fingerprint to unlock the app on devices with fingerprint sensors) but I’ll let them be under my new “live and let live” approach.