WhatsApp reveals how to enable two-step verification globally

10 Feb 2017

WhatsApp opening screen. Image: William Potter/Shutterstock

Adding another layer of protection to WhatsApp, users of the popular messaging app will now get the option of adding two-step verification to their accounts.

WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook have been making quite a big deal about the level of encryption found within the app, preventing governments, hackers or anyone else from snooping on people’s messages.

The first step to this was taken following the introduction of end-to-end encryption in April last year. This measure was supposedly snoop-proof, despite claims made by one security expert that the app contained a ‘backdoor’ for governments.

Regardless, the WhatsApp developers have announced that its 1bn-plus users can now avail of two-step verification, which means that anyone looking to verify their account on a phone must enter their own six-digit code.

When a user has chosen what six-digit code they would like to use, it will need to be entered every time WhatsApp recognises it is being accessed on another device, preventing a third party from using their account.

How to enable it

Rather than being set as a default option however, users will need to opt in to the app’s account submenu via the settings page, and select the option.

There is also the option of asking WhatsApp to send you a recovery email if you forget your code.

This might be a good idea, given that WhatsApp said a user’s number will not be permitted to reverify on the app within seven days of last using it without their passcode.

This means that anyone who hasn’t registered their email with WhatsApp could potentially be locked out of their app for a week if they forget the code.

Despite only testing two-step verification on the platform as recently as November last year, this security feature has long been established in online security circles, with Facebook itself introducing it as far back as 2011.

WhatsApp opening screen. Image: William Potter/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic