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WhatsApp is among the fastest growing instant messenger and almost a social network in its own way. But if you are using it, there are some steps you should take to protect your security and privacy.
If you spend a lot of time writing chats with your friends and family on WhatsApp, it would be a big problem if someone hacked into your accounts or read your chats, since they could potentially know everything about you.
To avoid getting such an unpleasant surprise, here are eight simple tricks to exponentially increase the security of your WhatsApp account.
How To Improve Your Whatsapp Security
- 1. Turn On Security Notifications
When a new phone or laptop accesses an existing chat, a new security code is generated for both phones. And WhatsApp can send a notification when the security code changes. This way, you can check the encryption with your friend over a different messenger, ensuring its security. tips for keeping WhatsApp secure To turn on security notifications,
go to WhatsApp > Settings > Account > Security > Show security notifications and flip the toggle to green, as pictured above.
- 2. Activate two-step verification
Two-step verification adds an extra layer of security. To activate two-step verification, go to Settings > Account > Two-step Verification > Activate.
Follow the steps to create a six-digit PIN code that is easy for you to remember. You can also add an email address that will receive the code in case you forget it. From now on, and at random intervals, you’ll see locks that will only be deactivated when you enter the PIN. This way, if someone steals your mobile, thanks to this system, they won’t be able to snoop on your WhatsApp.
- 3. Disable Chat Backup
WhatsApp creates backup copies of your conversations in Google Drive or in iCloud. This way, if you reinstall it, you can recover old messages. The problem is that this backup is not encrypted. That means there are chances that a hacker could gain access to this copy and read the data. If you are worried about this possibility, all you have to do is go to Settings > Chats > Backup.
There you can select how regularly your conversations will be saved. Choose Never to deactivate it. Remember, however, that this means there will be no way to recover your conversations!
- 4. Get the Official WhatsApp Desktop Apps
To use WhatsApp on your computer, you need to sync your phone with either WhatsApp Web or the WhatsApp desktop apps. To be on the safe side, get the official desktop app. The main reason for this is that WhatsApp Web can be easily manipulated, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says. It’s one of the biggest security threats WhatsApp users are facing. And when the EFF wrote that report, the recommended solution was to provide desktop clients.
Sure, the WhatsApp desktop client is only second best and there are better options. But don’t trade in security for a few extra features.
- 5. Protect Your Privacy on WhatsApp
WhatsApp isn’t the most private messenger out there, but it gives users at least some control. Go to Settings > Account > Privacy to see everything at your disposal.
You can control who can see your Last Seen, profile photo, about, status, and live location. You can also turn off Read Receipts here, so the blue check marks are switched off.
- 6. Check Encryption for Sensitive Conversations
Even though WhatsApp encrypts all chats by default, sometimes you want to double-check. It’s good practice to do that while sharing sensitive information like a credit card number with a trusted contact. To verify the encryption, start a conversation with that contact. In the chat window, tap the contact’s name, and then tap Encryption. You’ll see something like this:
This 40-digit pattern is your security code. You can verify this code manually by comparing the digits, asking the contact to scan that QR code, or scanning your contact’s code with the “Scan Code” button. As security researcher Martin Shelton notes, it’s best to use a different messenger to verify that these numbers match.
- 7. You Can’t Password Protect WhatsApp
Unfortunately, there’s no way to lock WhatsApp with a password. WhatsApp has said so explicitly and recommends using a third-party locking app for it on Android. On iPhones, there is simply no way to password-protect WhatsApp. Apple doesn’t allow it, whether with a passcode or Touch ID. tips for keeping WhatsApp secure So for now, the periodic 2FA pin is your only hope. Apart from that, the only way to keep WhatsApp private from snooping eyes is to use a password or pattern lock on your phone.
- 8. Beware of Common Scams
Since it’s an instant messenger, you might get some scams on WhatsApp periodically. You need to know some of the popular ones and not fall for them. The most persistent ones talk about a premium version of WhatsApp, “WhatsApp Gold,” or your account expiring.
No matter how it’s worded, the scam is about making you pay for WhatsApp. It shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t ever pay money for WhatsApp. The company has made it clear that WhatsApp will forever be free.
- Do You Think WhatsApp Is Safe and Private?
Even with all these features, you should know that WhatsApp isn’t completely secure. In fact, there are other more secure communication apps you can try instead. But for 99 percent of regular users, WhatsApp’s security protocols should be good enough.