Signal has added PINs to its secure messaging service. It’s a move that’s intended to make the company less reliant on phone numbers as its users’ primary identification.
The feature is available to all Signal users now, according to ZDNet, and once the feature is enabled, you’ll be able to choose a PIN that will be associated with your account. That four-digit code or string of alphanumeric text will then be used to encrypt settings, local contacts, and profile information, and then upload a copy of that data to Signal’s servers. The PIN won’t cover conversations, as Signal doesn’t store that data on its servers, and moreover, developers can’t access or view any data without a PIN. The PINs can also be used to lock accounts and prevent other malicious users from registering a Signal account to a new device using a phone number.
The point of all that functionality is to make it easier for users to migrate their profiles across devices — say, if a phone is lost or stolen. But beware: because Signal doesn’t know your PIN, it’s unrecoverable if it’s lost. Still, it’s a smart feature, one that should make your account even more secure.