WhatsApp added a new feature where you can block the access to the application. So that it asks you for facial recognition (Face ID or Touch ID) to access the chats. The main idea is to protect the content on certain occasions when the phone is unlocked. Or for example when you are in a meeting and you pass the phone around a group of friends to show a photo or a meme. Just at that moment where you receive a notification of Whatsapp.
This function is a useful idea. And we will surely see it incorporated into more applications, including some from Apple.
Adding that extra protection option to a chat application seems sensible. Given the popularity of posting a fake Facebook status as a joke, offering the same option for things like social media could also be useful.
Several applications could be the beneficiaries
There are quite a few Apple apps that could also benefit from this feature. Messages, mail, calendar, notes and health, just to mention a few.
A Reddit user found a vulnerability in this function. You can use the iOS Share Sheet to open the application. Everything is fine if you configured it to require a biometric login immediately. But if you selected any other time interval, access to the shared sheet resets the timer. And someone can open WhatsApp without verification.
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- Access the iOS Sharing Sheet through any method (for example, in the Photos application).
- Click on the WhatsApp icon on the iOS sharing sheet.
- During the transition to the next screen, notice that Face ID or Touch ID verification is not performed if an option other than “Immediately” was configured previously. Now simply go to the iOS home screen. (If, in some cases, you request verification of Face ID or Touch ID, simply cancel and try to click on the WhatsApp icon on the shared sheet of iOS again.)
- Try to open WhatsApp and that’s it, simply let you enter WhatsApp without the verification of Face ID or Touch ID.
Reuters reports that Facebook, the owner of the application, has recognized the security vulnerability of WhatsApp and promised a quick solution.
“We are aware of the problem and a solution will be available shortly. Meanwhile, we recommend that people set the screen lock option to “immediately,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said by email.