When it comes to calling someone, the messaging app WhatsApp has a huge advantage over others.
Using only a supported phone and a valid phone number, anyone can simply download the Meta-owned WhatsApp app and call anyone who also uses WhatsApp, which user count goes upward to billions of users.
While WhatsApp boasts end-to-end encryption for quite a long time now, the communication method has long been peer-to-peer.
What this means, participants of WhatsApp calls use direct connection that allows for faster data transfers and better call quality, but chances are, attackers can pinpoint users' location because their IP address is visible.
Meta wants to change that, using what it calls the 'Protect IP Address in Calls' feature.
According to a dedicated FAQ page, the feature adds an additional privacy layer by simply preventing attackers from having direct access to users IP address.
To do this, WhatsApp relays "all of your calls through WhatsApp’s servers."
What this means, "your call won’t be connected directly and will avoid revealing your IP address to the person you’re calling," said WhatsApp.
To access this setting, users can tap on Settings, and then open Privacy.
Then on Advanced, they can turn on the Protect IP address in calls.
It's worth noting that group calls are always relayed through WhatsApp’s servers by default.
It's worth noting that the feature adds something on top of existing method of communication.
What this means, call quality can be reduced, and Meta confirms this in a website post.
It's also worth noting that IP protection is totally different from end-to-end encryption.
Whereas IP protection is all about safeguarding users' online identity and location, end-to-end encryption is more about obscuring the messages within the chats.
IP address is like a digital fingerprint, revealing users' location and online activities. IP address protection involves measures to conceal or change users' IP address, enhancing users' online privacy. It's like wearing a disguise while wandering the digital streets, making it more challenging for prying eyes to trace your online steps.
End-to-end encryption on the other hand, is like a secret language only users and the intended recipient can understand.
In this case, not even WhatsApp knows how the decipher users' message.