WhatsApp Upgrades Proxy Feature Against Internet Shutdowns

Cyber Security

Jun 30, 2023Ravie LakshmananPrivacy / Tech

Meta’s WhatsApp has rolled out updates to its proxy feature, allowing more flexibility in the kind of content that can be shared in conversations.

This includes the ability to send and receive images, voice notes, files, stickers and GIFs, WhatsApp told The Hacker News. The new features were first reported by BBC Persian.

Some of the other improvements include streamlined steps to simplify the setup process as well as the introduction of shareable links to “share functioning/valid proxy addresses to their contacts for easy and automatic installation.”

Support for proxy servers was officially launched by the messaging service earlier this January, thereby helping users circumvent government-imposed censorship and internet shutdowns and obtain indirect access to WhatsApp.

The company has also made available a reference implementation for setting up a proxy server with ports 80, 443 or 5222 available and domain name that points to the server’s IP address.

“A proxy server is an intermediary gateway between WhatsApp and external servers,” WhatsApp said. “Users may search for trusted accounts on social media that regularly

post verified proxy addresses, which they can then add to their WhatsApp accounts.”

Internet shutdowns have been increasingly common across the world during times of crises, conflicts, communal violence, and to prevent cheating in examinations. Authorities in 35 countries instituted internet shutdowns at least 187 times in 2022, a number that has already reached 80 for the first five months of 2023.

India alone implemented 84 shutdowns in 2022, making it the leading democratic country to enforce deliberate restrictions for the fifth consecutive year.

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