WhatsApp is no doubt one of the fastest and most popular instant messengers out there. Its chats are more than just simple texts. We all know it. A lot of things are now being shared on the platform ranging from photos, videos, bank account details, contacts and so on. And with so much personal data, if you take privacy and security of WhatsApp for granted then its jackpot for wicked minds.
This is beyond and above WhatsApp own built-in end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp’s encryption ensures that your messages can be read only on your recipient’s phone. It’s enabled by default and can’t be turned off.
Notwithstanding, there are steps you should take to protect your privacy and security.
1. Lock WhatsApp
First and foremost, have your WhatsApp locked with a password or PIN. Having others handling your phone and not wanting them pry on your chats then, having your WhatsApp locked will do you some good. Though, WhatsApp itself doesn’t offer such a function, but there are third-party apps that do. Some Android’s app with such functionality are Messenger and Chat Lock, Lock for WhatsApp and Secure Chat.
2. Disable Backups
WhatsApp end-to-end encryption is awesome, but having WhatsApp backs up chats to Google Drive or iCloud can pose as a loophole. Even though it’s cool because reinstalling it again can help you retrieve your old messages. But this backup isn’t encrypted.
So if you really care about your privacy, then that’s something you need to disable. Remember, storing your data with Apple and Google might not protect you against eavesdropping by governments.
3. Disable WhatsApp Web
Having your WhatsApp chat on a web browser is a cool feature. But make sure your account doesn’t have any unwanted WhatsApp Web active. To check for that, click on menu at the top right corner of your app, then tap on Whatsapp Web. You can see your logged in computers there. If there’s an active logged in that’s not you, then logged out from it.
4. Turn On WhatsApp Security Notifications
When a new phone or laptop accesses an existing chat, a new security code is generated for both devices. WhatsApp sends a notification whenever the security code changes. This way, you can easily tell when a device that is not authorized by you tried to log into your WhatsApp.
To turn on security notifications, go to WhatsApp > Settings > Account > Security > Show security notifications and flip the toggle to green, as pictured below.
5. Restrict Access to Profile Picture
Do you use your profile photo on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Maybe it’s even on your company’s website somewhere. If it is, and it’s set to be viewed by “Everyone” then, anyone that has your contact can download your picture from your WhatsApp profile. And, using Google Image search, very quickly can find out more about you. Set profile picture sharing to “Contacts only” in the Privacy menu.
6. Don’t Fall For Scams
WhatsApp itself will never contact you through its app. Also, WhatsApp doesn’t send emails about chats, photos, voice messages, payment or videos unless you contact their help and support channel to start with. Anything offering a free subscription, claiming to be from WhatsApp or does encourage you to follow links in order to safeguard your account is definitely a scam and not to be trusted.
7. Enable Two-Step Verification
WhatsApp security supports Two Factor Authentication (2FA). This adds a periodic pass-code to WhatsApp, and also ensures your data isn’t accessed by someone else.
To activate 2FA, go to Menu > Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable. Create a six-digit PIN code that you can easily remember. Also, add your email address to retrieve that code in case you forget it.
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