WhatsApp update stops hackers being able to find your phone by calling it

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A new WhatsApp feature could stop people from being found through phone calls, the company has said.

The tool, named “Protect IP Address in Calls”, is aimed at letting people ensure that they do not give away unwanted information to the people who call them up.

At the moment, WhatsApp calls are made in one of two ways: peer-to-peer or through WhatsApp’s servers. The new setting allows users to choose between them to ensure that they are able to keep information private.

Peer-to-peer calling works as it sounds: the two phones are directly in contact. That usually allows for better call quality, but means that the two phones need to know each other’s IP address.

If calls are instead relayed through WhatsApp’s servers, it means that the IP address can be kept secret. That address could potentially be useful to hackers or other malicious cyber criminals, since it can be used to work out a person’s general location or their internet provider.

Now users can choose to use the new feature and always have their calls sent through WhatsApp’s servers and protect their IP address. WhatsApp cannot intercept those calls even when they go through its servers since they are end-to-end encrypted.

WhatsApp stressed that the new feature is aimed at their “most privacy-conscious users”. It may lead to less fast connections and lower quality calls, for instance.

The new update follows another, released over summer, which WhatsApp refers to as “Silence Unknown Calls”. That stops phone calls from unknown numbers from even getting through to your phone – which means that it will not only limit spam and other annoying calls, but will also keep people cyber attacks, WhatsApp said.