WhatsApp wants your overall messaging experience to be secured, which is probably why it has enabled two-step verification. Once activated, no one can register on WhatsApp using your mobile number. Even though it’s the most-recent security feature to make it to WhatsApp, its arrival was expected for months. This feature is currently available on the latest Beta for Android (version 2.16.349). If you want to check the version of WhatsApp running on your phone, open WhatsApp > navigate to ‘Settings’ > then ‘About and help’ > and then ‘About.’ Hence, if you are not a beta tester, you can either opt for beta testing or wait for its public release.
There are a few reports claiming that two-step verification also exists in version 2.16.341 and above (maybe even earlier). Having said that, I checked the earlier Android beta version 2.16.338 which had no two-step verification feature available under Accounts settings. To download WhatsApp Messenger for Android (Beta), go to the app page on the Play Store. If you are not a beta tester already, there you will find an option to opt for beta testing at the bottom of the page. Once done, your WhatsApp will be updated to the latest beta release.
How to activate two-step verification in WhatsApp?
Considering that you have successfully installed WhatsApp for Android beta, go to Account settings. There you will find a new option — Two-step verification. Tapping the option will prompt you to enable the feature. Once you tap the ‘Enable’ button, you will require setting a six-digit passcode which you will be asked for while registering your phone number with WhatsApp. Moving on, it will prompt you to add an email address to your account which will be then used to reset your passcode. Hence, even if you forget your passcode in future, it won’t be a problem.
However, in case you want to disable it for some reason, you can do so by tapping the option under the Account settings. Similarly, you can also change your passcode or email address. WhatsApp neither asked me to enter my current passcode before choosing the new one nor sent any verification email. This way, it is possible that anyone having a physical access to my phone can easily bypass or disable two-step verification.
How effective is two-step verification in WhatsApp?
The two-step verification feature is currently available in beta, which is why it’s too early to comment anything on its effectiveness or working principles. In spite of that, there are a few points which I mainly want to discuss in this article. The whole idea of two-step verification is to restrict others from registering on WhatsApp using your number. Hence, any unwanted access to your WhatsApp number or data will be kept within bounds.
“Two-step verification is an optional feature that adds more security to your account. When you have two-step verification enabled, any attempt to verify your phone number on WhatsApp must be accompanied by the six-digit passcode that you created using this feature,” says WhatsApp.
Hence, even if you forget your passcode without setting up a recovery email address in the first place, you will not be able to re-verify the number on WhatsApp within 7 days of last using it. After 7 days, re-verification is allowed without a passcode, but you will lose all your data. This is helpful especially since the person who gets the recycled number won’t be restricted from using WhatsApp for a lifetime unless the previous user disables two-step verification or deletes account.
To conclude, this what makes me wonder: Even if I don’t enable two-step verification, I still have a chance to safeguard registration using OTP (one-time password). Hence, WhatsApp should not limit two-step verification to what it does right now. After all, it has a long way to go with its standalone desktop app and Web which doesn’t work without our mobile device in sync. Using two-step verification, WhatsApp can at least allow desktop experience without making us dependent on our phone.