WhatsApp’s disappearing messages feature now has more options.

  • WhatsApp rolled out disappearing messages last year that allowed users to set a timer on texts and more recently a way for photos and videos to immediately disappear after being viewed once.
  • They are providing users with more options to control their messages and how long they stick around, with default disappearing messages and multiple durations.
  • WhatsApp users will now have the option to turn on disappearing messages by default for all new chats.
[Via]

WhatsApp banned nearly 2 million accounts in India in Oct

  • WhatsApp says banned over 2 mn accounts in India in Oct. WhatsApp on Wednesday said that it banned over two million accounts in India in October in compliance with the new IT Rules 2021.
  • In September, more than 2.2 million Indian accounts were banned by WhatsApp while 560 grievance reports were received by the messaging.
  • About 2 million Indian accounts were banned by WhatsApp while 420 grievance reports were received by the messaging platform in August.
[Via]

WhatsApp has been given permission to double its payment offering to India’s 40 million users : Report

  • WhatsApp has won regulatory approval to double the number of users on its payments service in India to 40 million, a source with direct knowledge told news agency Reuters on Friday.
  • Instead, the National Payments Corporation of India this week told the company it could double the user base to which it can offer its payment service – currently restricted to 20 million – the source said.
  • The NPCI gave WhatsApp approval to start its payments service last year after the company spent years trying to comply with Centre’s regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally.
[Via]

WhatsApp tests the new feature of playback controls for audio messages

  • WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will allow users to control playback speeds of audio messages.
  • As spotted by WABetainfo, dedicated playback controls will allow users to playback the messages faster at 1.5X or 2X the original speed.
  • WhatsApp is testing an update that lets you speed up the playback of voice messages Also WhatsApp will let you pause voice recordings in the future.
[Via]

WhatsApp will let users selectively hide “Last Seen” status

  • This will allow WhatsApp users to display elements like their last seen to all contacts except specific contacts allowing more fine controls.
  • The same option is also available for your WhatsApp profile picture, Last Seen and About info, and it seems the option is not available for status updates just yet.
  • Users must note that disabling the last seen option for a contact will not allow you to see their last seen information either.
[Via]

WhatsApp wants NPCI to increase its UPI cap ; NPCI May Relax Limit In Phases

  • Instant messaging platform WhatsApp is pushing for the user cap on its payment service to be increased beyond the current 20 million.
  • The National Payments Corporation of India, which operates the country’s retail payment and settlement systems, had allowed WhatsApp to start payment services in November last year with a cap of 20 million users.
  • WhatsApp India’s director of payments Manesh Mahatme said in September that it is scaling up the service in phases in partnership with NPCI. Mahatme said the focus will be on accelerating marketing initiatives to increase awareness of the payments feature on the instant messaging app.
[Via]

WhatsApp spotted integrating Novi digital wallet to enable global payment transfers

  • A code found in the latest WhatsApp 2.21.23.10 beta version hints at Novi integration, which will enable global payment transfers, according to XDA Developers.
  • The integration of this service would let WhatsApp users send or receive money globally through the Novi digital wallet.
  • The company is already running a small pilot of a Novi digital wallet in the US and Guatemala.
[Via]

WhatsApp’s Communities to let admins create groups within groups

  • WhatsApp is working to add new features to help Communities admins have greater control in groups.
  • As per the screenshots shared by the reporting publication, to distinguish them from conventional group chats, community icons will be squares with rounded sides.
  • Communities are expected to have the ability to create groups within groups as well as the option to welcome new users via a ‘Community Invite Link.’
[Via]

WhatsApp to offer end-to-end encryption option for backups

  • In what could lead to possible pushback from security agencies and governments across the world, global instant messaging giant WhatsApp said on Friday it will start offering end-to-end encryption on backup of messages.
  • WhatsApp currently provides Android phone users the option to backup their chats either on Google Drive or some other storage of their choice, while for iPhone users it provides the same option on iCloud.
  • An end-to-end encryption on backups means that media and messages, stored on either Google Drive or iCloud will now be encrypted with a unique and completely random encryption key.
[Via]

WhatsApp is finally working on adding message reactions

  • WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new messaging feature called message reactions.
  • If you react to someone’s message and they’re on an older version, they’ll receive a message telling them to update their WhatsApp app.
  • If WhatsApp does decide to implement a message reaction feature, it will most likely arrive first on WhatsApp beta.
[Via]

WhatsApp Pay launched in India

https://in.pcmag.com/instant-messaging/131672/what-is-whatsapp-pay-and-how-does-it-work

WhatsApp is set to rock the digital payments space in India from today with the launch of WhatsApp Pay.

WhatsApp Pay will be using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a real-time payments system supported by more than 160 banks in India to run this new feature. With this update, we can expect to see WhatsApp taking on industry veterans like Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm.

WhatsApp Pay will be initially available to 2 crore WhatsApp users in India. The number of users is being limited as per the cap laid down by the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI). WhatsApp Pay has the option of expanding its user base in a phased manner.

Zuckerberg says sending money now as easy as sending a message

https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/social/whatsapp-payments-mark-zuckerberg-6973405/With National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) stating that WhatsApp can expand its Unified Payment Interface (UPI) user base in a graded manner starting with a maximum registered user base of 20 million in UPI. No fee will be charged when sending money via WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg says by doing this, India has created something truly special and is opening up a “world of opportunities for micro and small businesses”.

WhatsApp has now made it easier to review, bulk delete items and free up space

https://thenextweb.com/plugged/2020/11/04/whatsapp-just-made-it-easier-to-clear-up-space-on-your-phone/

WhatsApp is now making it easier to clear up phone storage by updating it’s storage management system.

WhatsApp, now offers storage management suggestions and will start sorting files according to their size and the number of times they have been forwarded.

WhatsApp will also warn users of low storage, thus prompting them to delete some media to free up space.

WhatsApp is testing verified business accounts and this is how it works

WhatsApp is gearing up to launch its UPI based payment service and is now pilot testing verified business accounts.

Whatsapp verified business accounts
Whatsapp verified business accounts (Pilot with Bookmyshow)
The green tick mark means that the account has been verified (FYI: Bookmyshow is one of the pilot partners).
From WhatsApp’s FAQ on this:
Some business accounts have been verified by WhatsApp. If you see a green badge next to a contact’s name, it means that WhatsApp has confirmed that the phone number of this contact belongs to a business account.
WhatsApp will also let you know when you start talking to a business via yellow messages inside a chat. There is no way to delete these messages from the chat.
If you already have a business’s phone number saved in your address book, the name you will see is the name you have saved in your address book.
If you don’t have a business’s phone number saved in your address book, the name you will see is the name the business has chosen for themselves.
Will this be the final blow on SMS?
Brace yourself. This will bring the new (Ecommerce) boom in the country. Verified business accounts is the first step for WhatsApp to launch its payment service.
Pic credit: Harsha

Forget Encryption, WhatsApp Is Vulnerable To Phishing Attacks

Recently there has been a lot of noise about how WhatsApp has done end-to-end encryption and even WhatsApp cannot decrypt it for the Federal Agencies! This has been done in the interest of privacy and security of 1 billion people for whom WhatsApp is the sole choice for to send text messages and phone calls to other users.

However its not the Federal Agencies that WhatsApp should be protecting its users from. It’s the Phishing attacks, scams, identity thefts on naïve users that needs WhatsApp’s urgent attention.

Sometime back WhatsApp introduced WhatsApp Web for its users where they have to scan a QR code from their WhatsApp on mobile and then they can start using WhatsApp from their desktop or laptop in the same way they do it on their mobile phones.

WhatsApp Web is the gateway for unscrupulous individuals and companies to phish personal data, financial details, confidential information, pictures, videos, and chats from WhatsApp accounts of people.

They do it easily, just by:

1.Scrapping the QR code from the WhatsApp Web

2.Posting that scrapped QR Code onto their phishing site / page

3.Asking visitors on their phishing page to scan it from WhatsApp on their phone, in return offering some prize, cash or anything that can lure a user

4.Once the user is done with scanning, these phishing individuals or companies get complete access to the user’s WhatsApp

The technically savvy readers can download and examine the source code for phishing on whatsApp here: https://github.com/Mawalu/whatsapp-phishing

Image1

Most of the 1 billion WhatsApp users are not technically savvy to realize that a parallel connection to their WhatsApp account gets created the moment they scan a QR Code on a non-whatsApp site from their WhatsApp application. Try explaining that to your mother !

How WhatsApp Web Works:

1.User log onto web.whatsapp.com from their desktop

2.Scan the QR code on the page from WhatsApp on mobile

3.Get connected to WhatsApp via desktop / laptop

What Phishing Individuals and Companies are doing:

1.User is taken on a fraudulent website

2.The website requires user to scan a QR code from WhatsApp

3.Once scanned, the fraudulent website gets access to user’s WhatsApp account

Image2

While the example above is only illustrative but its happening around us already. I came across a company named 1Group / ii5.com, in India who is using this vulnerability as a feature for their product. They get naïve customers to scan a QR Code and get access to whatsApp groups of the customers. I recorded a video of how it works and it is actually scary.

What all can get stolen:

1.Anything & everything that you have shared via WhatsApp, like bank details, passwords, private pics, personal messages, etc.

2.Your entire contacts list

3.Your complete chat data

4.Your personal information

All this data can now be accessed by these phishing individuals and companies. Imagine what all they can do with this data?

Moreover, they can send messages to any contact on your phone posing as you. For example:

1.Inappropriate messages to your professional contacts

2.Indecent messages to your family

How dangerous it can become if any individual or company can get access to a large number of WhatsApp users? Personal and confidential information of a billion users is at stake and it can really cause a phishing bomb to explode with unimagined repercussions. Think about anti-national elements get into this phishing scam and what they can do with this – its not encryption but phishing protection that customers really need.

#WakeUpWhatsapp

A bunch of tech reformists have also raised their voices to secure the personal and confidential data of WhatsApp users and are running a campaign on Twitter and have garnered support to a large extent. You can also raise your voice after reading their open letter to Whatsapp.

[About the Author: Sachin Arora is a Tech evangelist for Oracle and contributes to the company’s Big Data Strategy and Innovation for both public and private enterprises. As an SMAC (Social, Media, Analytics, Cloud) expert, Sachin closely examines the potential and risks of upcoming technologies.]