WhatsApp is an incredibly popular messaging platform, with over a billion users worldwide. But that popularity means its right in the cross hairs of cyber threat actors. Whether it’s a simple phishing exercise or an attack by professional hackers, your account is in more danger than ever before.
It’s important to be able to secure your WhatsApp and prevent hacking. There are no 100 percent guarantees in the cybersecurity domain. However, these tips go a long way towards making WhatsApp more secure and private.
How to Secure WhatsApp Account and Prevent Hacking
#1. Avoid Clicking on Forwarded URLs
No matter how secure your WhatsApp connection is, there’s no way it can keep you safe from phishing attacks that focus on your human vulnerability. You get forwards from acquaintances or even random numbers all the time. If you get a forward with a dodgy looking URL, do not click on it. It could potentially install malware on your device.
#2. Use Two-Factor Authentication
This additional security feature can help secure your WhatsApp account. If you don’t want anyone else accessing your conversations, even when using your device, it’s a great option. Two-Factor Authentication will result in a randomized check for the PIN-code you’ve set up. Even if someone gains temporary access to your device, they won’t be able to use it long-term.
#3. Enable Touch ID or Face ID lock
WhatsApp has recently enabled support for Touch ID/Face ID lock. It’s easy to enable this in the Privacy settings. Once you’ve done so, you will be required to use Touch ID or Face ID every time you open the app. Because of how fast the sensors work, this makes it convenient for you, but near-impossible for anyone else to get access.
#4. Avoid using Third-party WhatsApp Clients on your iPhone
Solutions like WhatsApp++ are available for both Android and iOS users that offer enhanced functions not present in the official WhatsApp application. However, they carry great security risks. Because they aren’t vetted by the official WhatsApp team, there’s no telling if (or how) their security has been compromised. You might even unintentionally install malware instead of a WhatsApp client. Always be aware of this risk.
#5. Limit your Profile Visibility
WhatsApp has privacy features built-in, making it easy to hide information that you don’t want made public. You can choose your profile picture to only be visible to your contacts, or even no one at all. Make sure to do the same for your live location–you don’t want random people to know where you are, right?
#6. Disable Read Receipts
Read receipts are great in theory – they can clear up situations where someone may have forgotten to read your message. In practice, they can be invasive of your privacy, since you’re expected to reply shortly after someone sees the blue ticks. Disabling Read Receipts in the privacy settings is an easy way to gain a layer of privacy.
#7. Delete Sensitive Texts and Media for Everyone
WhatsApp’s delete for everyone feature means that you can “take back” certain messages so they aren’t on a permanent record. If you need to share something sensitive over WhatsApp, it’s a good idea to delete the message for everyone soon after sending. That way, you won’t have to deal with the privacy repercussions of having that message stored permanently.
#8. Disable Cloud Backups
While WhatsApp chats are encrypted, cloud backups are a major security loophole. WhatsApp uses Google Drive to back up your chats and media. Depending on privacy policies in your jurisdiction, Google may or may not be obligated to turn over this information to government authorities if requested. If you don’t want to take the risk, don’t backup your chats on Google Drive.
#9 Hide your WhatsApp Media from the Photos App
If you have any sensitive media linked to your WhatsApp account, it’s a good idea to keep it delinked from the Photos app. You can do that just by disabling WhatsApp access to the Photos app in iOS’s privacy settings. It’s a good idea to do this since Photos backs up to iCloud and may be easy to view for anyone using your device.
#10. Avoid Using WhatsApp Web if Possible
WhatsApp Web is very handy if you want WhatsApp access without leaving your computer. The problem with it is that it introduces your conversations and media to PC environments. Even if you keep your phone secure, your Windows PC may have viruses or a keylogger. It would be possible to monitor your WhatsApp conversations this way, even if the chat’s encrypted. The safest thing is to just avoid using WhatsApp Web entirely. If you have to use it, don’t forget to log out when you’re done.
That’s all folks!
With cyber threats causing billions of dollars worth of damage every year, it’s becoming more and more important to make sure that you use WhatsApp in a safe and secure way. As the messaging platform of choice for over a billion people worldwide, it’s always vulnerable.
If you’ve followed these tips, you’ll have ensured that your WhatsApp account is just a bit more private and just a bit more secure. It isn’t a guarantee of safety, but you’ll be safer than with the out of the box experience. Have you had any issues with WhatsApp hacking? How did you deal with them? Let us know in the comments below.
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