As the World’s most popular messaging application, WhatsApp is constantly adding new features designed to delight their 1 billion registered users. And the latest update contains a number of goodies that will delight fans of picture messaging.

This all looks very familiar…
For anyone who uses the Snapchat app, the new WhatsApp features will seem very familiar. In fact, you might say that they are identical.

WhatsApp users can now take a photo, and quickly add a sketch or some text, before sending it as a message – just like Snapchat. Or they can add emojis – that look exactly the same as those in Snapchat. There’s even several navigation gestures (zooming in an out, or switching between cameras) that are exactly the same as those used in the Snapchat app.

The reason WhatsApp have borrowed so much from Snapchat is simple – to keep people engaged with their platform. The more that people use the platform, the better able WhatsApp (and their parent company Facebook) is to profile them for advertising purposes.

And obviously people want entertaining picture messaging services – so these new features are sure to be incredibly popular

Is there a potential security risk with the new WhatsApp app?

Because of its popularity, WhatsApp has been targeted by cybercriminals many times over the years. Several times researchers and hackers have uncovered flaws in the software that allow accounts to be compromised.

Every one of these breaches has the potential to expose personal information – or to give criminals useful information for identity theft.

WhatsApp has made significant efforts to improve security, although privacy still remains doubtful because of the new data sharing agreement with Facebook. However end-to-end encryption of messages – including the new photo options – should prevent people from “listening in”.

Better safe than sorry

No matter how trusted the developer may be, you should always treat each new app (or update) with some caution. Installing an antivirus and security tool will help you see what is going on behind the scenes, how the app is using your personal data.

The WhatsApp service is known to take a copy of your entire address book and upload it to their servers for instance. WhatsApp are relatively transparent about this (they can better identify your friends who are also using their service) – but other developers are not. You should always use a tool like Panda Mobile Security to monitor exactly what’s happening on your phone.

Otherwise you might be installing software that accesses much more personal data than you expect.

You can prevent data stored on your handset from being accessed by thieves too. Panda Mobile Security allows you to lock each app with a PIN, so if you don’t enter the right code, the app cannot be opened. If someone steals your phone, they cannot view your messages and pictures.

No less secure, but a useful reminder

Because the latest update is still very new, no one has yet exposed any new WhatsApp security vulnerabilities. And even if there aren’t any problems, the release is a useful reminder of the importance of scanning new apps from malware, loopholes and suspicious data access permissions.

Download your free copy of Panda Mobile Security now – then go get creative with the new WhatsApp picture features. Have fun!