Enhancing the safety of WhatsApp calls

  • New optionally available options in WhatsApp have helped make calling on WhatsApp safer.
  • “Silence Unknown Callers” is a brand new setting on WhatsApp that not solely quiets annoying calls but additionally blocks refined cyber assaults.
  • “Defend IP Deal with in Calls” is a brand new setting on WhatsApp that helps cover your location from different events on the decision.

Privateness and safety are on the core of WhatsApp. Along with defending private messages with end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp empowers customers to regulate their very own privateness settings: from what you share, the way you present up on-line, or who can attain out to you or add you to teams.

In June 2023, WhatsApp introduced a further privateness function: Silence Unknown Callers. We launched  this function for the advantages it has for not solely privateness but additionally safety. The expertise is easy: with the setting turned on, calls from unknown numbers don’t ring your cellphone. Having rigorously constructed this function to reduce assault floor and exterior information processing, we’re in a position to assist defend customers from not solely undesirable contact, but additionally cyber assaults and adware.

Then in October 2023, WhatsApp started rolling out “Defend IP Deal with in Calls” which hides your IP from the opposite get together by relaying calls by means of WhatsApp Servers. 

Cease cyber assaults and hackers with “Silence Unknown Callers”

Throughout the software program trade, calling merchandise are a pretty vector for cyber assaults. Widespread software program initiatives on this area, equivalent to WebRTC and PJSIP, have documented quite a few vulnerabilities. Due to the complexity and huge variety of protocols concerned, attackers have many alternatives to discover a bug to take advantage of. Moreover, calling software program usually robotically processes incoming packets from callers to optimize name setup and enhance efficiency. This implies calling vulnerabilities can usually result in “zero-click” assaults; the sufferer might not must even settle for the decision for the assault to succeed.

In most calling merchandise, gadgets alternate data and setup state with out person interplay.

Many calling merchandise provide methods to silence calls. Nonetheless, conventional strategies of silencing retain the identical community protocols and message circulate of a traditional name which merely silences the decision on the recipient’s system. This leaves many dangers for name recipients unmitigated.

  • The recipient’s system should carry out difficult processing of attacker-controlled information
  • This provides an attacker methods to load information into the recipient’s reminiscence 
  • The recipient might leak system data again to the attacker to extend exploit supply reliability

One might try and mitigate these dangers by including state machines, firewalls, and sandboxes on the recipient. Nonetheless, there are many examples within the trade of those strategies failing to protect users.

As an alternative, WhatsApp constructed a specialised protocol for delivering stripped-down, silenced name notifications to recipients. The server enforces this protocol, defending the recipient system from the complexity of regular name setup and from processing attacker-controlled information.

Our implementation of silenced calls, with WhatsApp servers implementing separation.

This method took extra effort than a client-only technique. How can the server know if the decision must be silenced with out asking the recipient? In end-to-end encrypted messengers like WhatsApp, shoppers are the supply of reality. We don’t hold logs of who everyone seems to be messaging or calling: Whereas historically cell carriers and operators retailer this data, we imagine that protecting these data for 2 billion customers could be each a privateness and safety threat and we don’t do it. 

WhatsApp developed a brand new expertise, named privateness tokens, to unravel this drawback. Every consumer regionally decides which different person it trusts and distributes tokens to them. When a name is positioned, the caller contains the privateness token of the recipient within the protocol message. Subsequent, the server checks the token’s validity together with a couple of different elements to find out if the meant recipient permits this sender to ring them. Crucially, for our person’s privateness, the server doesn’t study something in regards to the actual relationship between the caller and the recipient from the token.

With our design of this function, calling turns into a a lot much less engaging vector for attackers.

Defend your IP handle metadata in calls

Two frequent strategies of connecting name contributors: peer-to-peer and by way of a relay.

Most calling merchandise folks use in the present day have peer-to-peer connections between contributors. This direct connection permits for quicker information transfers and higher name high quality, nevertheless it additionally signifies that contributors must know one another’s IP addresses so that decision information packets will be delivered to the proper system – that means that the IP addresses are seen to each callers on a 1:1 name. IP addresses might comprise data that a few of our most privacy-conscious customers are aware of, equivalent to broad geographical location or web supplier.

To handle this concern, we launched a brand new function on WhatsApp that means that you can defend your IP handle throughout calls. With this function enabled, all of your calls can be relayed by means of WhatsApp’s servers, guaranteeing that different events within the name can not see your IP handle and subsequently deduce your normal geographical location. This new function gives a further layer of privateness and safety significantly geared in the direction of our most privacy-conscious customers. As at all times, your calls are end-to-end encrypted, so even when a name is relayed by means of WhatsApp servers, WhatsApp can not hearken to your calls.

Go to the WhatsApp Help Center study extra about this function – which is being rolled out at present to iOS and Android customers – and how to activate it.


WhatsApp constructed and launched “Silence Unknown Callers” and “Defend IP Deal with in Calls” this 12 months as a part of our ongoing complete work to maintain customers secure. These options respect and enhance person privateness whereas additionally decreasing the effectiveness of real-world assaults.

Defending person privateness and safety is totally essential for WhatsApp to perform its mission to allow non-public communication for the world. These new security measures mix with many different protections to maintain folks secure on WhatsApp.