8 Tips to Make WhatsApp More Secure and Private
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WhatsApp is among the fastest growing instant messengers Here Are the Fastest Growing Social Networks You Need to Join Here Are the Fastest Growing Social Networks You Need to Join While Facebook holds the lion's share of the social market, new services like Kik, Snapchat and WhatsApp threaten to break Facebook's stranglehold on the social Internet. Read More out there, 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.

This is above and beyond WhatsApp’s built-in end-to-end encryption Why WhatsApp's End-to-End Encryption Is a Big Deal Why WhatsApp's End-to-End Encryption Is a Big Deal WhatsApp recently announced that they would be enabling end-to-end encryption in their service. But what does this mean for you? Here's what you need to know about WhatsApp encryption. Read More . It’s enabled by default and can’t be turned off. The encryption ensures that your messages can only be read on the recipient’s phone. It’s the same for voice calls and video calls, both of which are encrypted.

1. 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:

tips for keeping whatsapp secure

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.

2. 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.

3. Enable Two-Step Verification

If a service supports it, you should be using two factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More (2FA). This adds a periodic passcode 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. Follow the steps to create a six-digit PIN code that you can easily remember. Importantly, add your email address to retrieve that code in case you forget it.

tips for keeping whatsapp secure

The periodic checks for the passcode are randomized, so it’s not exactly the same as password-locking your chat. But that’s not 2FA’s purpose anyway. The purpose is to stop someone else from accessing your WhatsApp account without your consent. It’s truly one of the best new WhatsApp features 6 New WhatsApp Features You Need to Know: Status, GIF Search, and More 6 New WhatsApp Features You Need to Know: Status, GIF Search, and More WhatsApp's new features make it more like a social networking app, and give you a lot more ways to communicate with your friends. Learn what they are, and how to use them, here. Read More .

4. 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 How To Lock Individual Apps on Android Using Hexlock How To Lock Individual Apps on Android Using Hexlock It can be time consuming and annoying to keep a PIN or password lock on your phone all the time. That’s where Hexlock comes in. Read More 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 Which Is More Secure, A Password Or a Pattern Lock? Which Is More Secure, A Password Or a Pattern Lock? Our smartphones carry a lot of personal information. All of your text messages, emails, notes, apps, app data, music, pictures, and so much more are all on there. While it's a very great convenience to... Read More on your phone.

5. Disable Cloud Backups (If You Care About Privacy)

The end-to-end encryption is awesome, but there’s one loophole: WhatsApp backs up chats to Google Drive 6 New WhatsApp Features You Should Know About 6 New WhatsApp Features You Should Know About When you're using an app day in and day out, it's easy to miss out on new features that get added. But what did you get in all those WhatsApp updates? Lots. Read More or iCloud. That way, if you reinstall it later, you can 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.

tips for keeping whatsapp secure

To disable automatic cloud backups:

  • On iPhone: Go to WhatsApp > Settings > Chats > Chat Backup > Auto Backup > Off
  • On Android: Go to WhatsApp > Menu > Settings > Chats > Chat Backup > Backup to Google Drive > Never

6. 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.

Read up on the most common WhatsApp scams 4 WhatsApp Scams You Need to Beware Of and Avoid 4 WhatsApp Scams You Need to Beware Of and Avoid Like with anything on the internet that has millions of users, scammers are targeting WhatsApp. You need to know the common WhatsApp scams and how to protect yourself from them. Read More so you know what to avoid.

7. Get the Official WhatsApp Desktop Apps

To use WhatsApp on your computer, you need to sync your phone with either WhatsApp Web WhatsApp Web: Everything You Need To Know WhatsApp Web: Everything You Need To Know Along with supporting all mobile platforms, WhatsApp has now launched a web-based client, so you can finally use WhatsApp on your PC and sync with your phone. Read More or the WhatsApp desktop apps. To be on the safe side, get the official desktop app.

tips for keeping whatsapp secure

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 4 Security Threats WhatsApp Users Need To Know About 4 Security Threats WhatsApp Users Need To Know About WhatsApp has become the biggest name in messaging apps, with many scammers trying to take advantage of the app's users. You'll be surprised at the number of threats to your WhatsApp safety. Read More . And when the EFF wrote that report, the recommended solution was to provide desktop clients.

Sure, the WhatsApp desktop client is only second best WhatsApp Desktop Client for Windows & Mac Is Only Second Best WhatsApp Desktop Client for Windows & Mac Is Only Second Best WhatsApp finally released an official desktop client for Windows and Mac. Notifications and keyboard shortcuts aside, it's identical to WhatsApp Web for your browser. We show you how it works and better alternatives. Read More and there are better options. But don’t trade in security for a few extra features.

Download: WhatsApp for Windows or Mac (Free)

8. 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.

tips for keeping whatsapp secure

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.

There’s no recommendation here, you can choose what works best for you. To learn more, here’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp privacy settings Everything You Need To Know About Your WhatsApp Privacy Settings Everything You Need To Know About Your WhatsApp Privacy Settings Read More .

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 Forget WhatsApp: 6 Secure Communication Apps You've Probably Never Heard Of Forget WhatsApp: 6 Secure Communication Apps You've Probably Never Heard Of The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a lobby group dedicated to "defending civil liberties in the digital world". They maintain the Secure Messaging Scorecard, which makes for worrying reading for fans of instant messaging. Read More you can try instead. But for 99 percent of regular users, WhatsApp’s security protocols should be good enough.

The bigger question is about privacy. Do you think your data on WhatsApp is private? Are you worried about any leaks? Tell us below.

Image Credit: sdecoret/Depositphotos

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  1. Nasir Munir
    November 9, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    is there any danger of our data leak..like conersation or pics .if there is any issue regrding ths then wht is the appropriate solution.

  2. dragonmouth
    November 8, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    "Do You Think WhatsApp Is Safe and Private?"
    Next Joke!

    • Paul G. Janzen
      November 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      good one!