Facebook parent company Meta this week announced the release of Code Verify, an open source browser extension meant to verify the authenticity of code served to the browser.
Code Verify is built on the idea of subresource integrity – where browsers verify the integrity of a fetched file – but applies the principle to all resources on the webpage, and leverages Cloudflare as a trusted third party.
WhatsApp Web users, Meta says, can now leverage the extension to ensure that the application has not been tampered with or altered.
The extension was designed to automatically compare code that runs on WhatsApp Web against a cryptographic hash source of truth that was entrusted to Cloudflare, and to notify the user if any inconsistency is found.
According to Meta, the checks are performed automatically, in real-time, and at scale, courtesy of Cloudflare’s third-party verification. With any updates made to WhatsApp Web, Code Verify and the cryptographic hash source of truth on Cloudflare are updated as well.
Code Verify was released for Chrome and Microsoft Edge and will soon arrive on Firefox as well.
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According to Meta, users can rest assured that their privacy isn’t breached, as no data or metadata is being logged by the extension, no information is being shared with WhatsApp, and there’s no access to user messages.
“In fact, neither WhatsApp nor Meta will know whether someone has downloaded the Code Verify extension. Additionally, the Code Verify extension never sends messages or chats between WhatsApp users to Cloudflare,” Meta says.
Code Verify runs immediately after installation and displays a green icon in the browser if the WhatsApp Web code is fully validated. An orange icon is displayed if a page refresh is needed or if an extension is interfering with Code Verify, and a red one will appear if potential security issues are found.
The extension is now available on GitHub, allowing others to employ it for the verification of their own applications. Furthermore, by open-sourcing Code Verify, Meta expects it to evolve based on contributions from the community.
“We believe that with Code Verify, we are charting new territory with automatic third-party code verification, particularly at this scale. We hope that more services use the open source version of Code Verify and make third-party verified web code the new norm,” Meta says.
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