Security Social Media

Is WhatsApp Safe? 5 Security Threats Users Need to Know About

James Frew Updated 07-12-2019

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging platform, is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps. It is estimated that over one billion people use the app, sending over 65 billion messages per day.


It’s no surprise then that security concerns, malware threats, and spam have begun to appear. Here’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp’s security issues.

1. WhatsApp Web Malware

Screenshot of the WhatsApp Web login page

WhatsApp’s enormous user base make it an obvious target for cybercriminals, many of which center around WhatsApp Web. For years, WhatsApp has allowed you to open a website, or download a desktop app, scan a code with the app on your phone, and use WhatsApp on your computer.

The app store on your phone—the App Store on iOS and Google Play on Android—are more carefully regulated than the internet at large. When you search for WhatsApp on those stores, it’s generally clear which app is the official one. That isn’t true of the wider internet.

Criminals, hackers, and scammers have all taken advantage of this. There have been instances of attackers passing off malicious software as WhatsApp desktop applications. If you are unfortunate enough to have downloaded one of these, the installation can distribute malware or otherwise compromise your computer.


In some cases, hackers were able to install spyware WhatsApp Breached: Update Your App to Stay Safe Concerned about the security of WhatsApp following the widely-publicized breach? Here's what to do and why you should care. Read More due to a WhatsApp vulnerability.

Others tried a different approach, creating phishing websites to trick you into handing over personal information. Some of these websites masquerade as WhatsApp Web, asking for you to enter your phone number to connect to the service. However, they actually use that number to bombard you with spam or correlate with other leaked or hacked data on the internet.

To be on the safe side, the best way to stay secure is to use only apps and services from official sources. WhatsApp offers a web client for you to use on any computer, known as WhatsApp Web. There are also official apps for Android, iPhone, macOS, and Windows devices.

Download: WhatsApp for Android | iOS | macOS | Windows (Free)


2. Unencrypted Backups

Screenshot of WhatsApp's backup settings on Android

The messages you send on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted. This means that only your device, and that of the recipient, can decode them. The feature prevents your messages from being intercepted during transmission, even by Facebook themselves. However, this doesn’t secure them once they are decrypted on your device.

WhatsApp allows you to back up your messages and media on Android and iOS. This is an essential feature as it allows you to recover accidentally deleted WhatsApp messages How to Recover Deleted or Missing WhatsApp Messages Here's how to recover deleted and missing WhatsApp messages quickly to ensure you don't lose any of your past chats. Read More . There is a local backup on your device in addition to a cloud-based backup. On Android, you can back up your WhatsApp data to Google Drive. If you are using an iPhone, then your backup destination is iCloud. These backups contain the decrypted messages from your device.

The backup file stored on iCloud or Google Drive is not encrypted. As this file contains decrypted versions of all your messages, it is theoretically vulnerable and undermines WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption.


As you have no choice in backup location, you are at the mercy of the cloud providers to keep your data secure. Although no large-scale hacks have affected iCloud or Google Drive to date, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. There are  other means that attackers could use to gain access to your cloud storage accounts too.

One of the supposed benefits of encryption is, for better or worse, being able to prevent government and law enforcement from accessing your data. As the unencrypted backup is stored on one of two U.S.-based cloud storage providers, all it would take is a warrant, and they would have unfettered access to your messages. If you do choose to back up your WhatsApp data to the cloud, it largely undermines the service’s end-to-end encryption.

3. Facebook Data Sharing

Screenshot of the Facebook news release annoucing the WhatsApp aquisition

Facebook has been the subject of much criticism in recent years. One of those criticisms is of Facebook’s effective market monopoly and anti-competitive actions. Regulators attempt to minimize anti-competitive behavior by evaluating any takeover attempts.


So, when Facebook decided that it wanted to add WhatsApp to the ‘Facebook Family,’ the European Union (EU) only approved the deal after Facebook assured them that the two companies, and their data, would be kept separate.

It didn’t take long for Facebook to go back on this agreement. In 2016, WhatsApp updated its Privacy Policy to allow sharing of data from WhatsApp to Facebook. Although they didn’t reveal the full extent of this data transfer, it included your phone number and your usage data, like when you last used the service. Your WhatsApp messages could be at risk 5 Ways Your WhatsApp Messages Can Be Hacked Think WhatsApp's message encryption makes it secure? Think again. Here are several ways your WhatsApp can be hacked. Read More because of this.

They also stated that none of your information would publicly visible on Facebook, implying that it would instead be hidden in Facebook’s inaccessible profile of you. Following the backlash to this announcement, WhatsApp allowed users to opt-out of this data sharing arrangement. However, in the intervening years, they quietly removed this option.

This is likely in preparation for Facebook’s future plans. According to a January 2019 report in the New York Times, Facebook is starting to create one unified infrastructure for all of their messaging platforms. This would incorporate Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. So, while each service would continue as a standalone app, the messages would all be sent on the same network.

4. Hoaxes and Fake News

Screenshot of a Guardian news story on WhatsApp's fake news problem in India

In recent years, social media companies have been criticized for allowing fake news and misinformation to spread on their platforms. Facebook, in particular, has been condemned for its role in spreading misinformation throughout the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. WhatsApp has also been subject to those same forces.

Two of the most notable cases have been in India and Brazil. WhatsApp was implicated in the widespread violence that occurred in India during 2017 and 2018. Messages containing details of fabricated child abductions were forwarded and spread across the platform, customized with local information. These messages were widely shared across people’s networks and resulted in the lynching of those accused of these fake crimes.

In Brazil, WhatsApp was the primary source of fake news throughout the 2018 elections. As this kind of misinformation was so easy to spread, business people in Brazil set up companies that created illegal WhatsApp misinformation campaigns against candidates. They were able to do this as your phone number is your username on WhatsApp, so they purchased lists of phone numbers to target.

Both issues were ongoing through 2018, a year that was infamously terrible for Facebook. Digital misinformation is a difficult problem to deal with, but many viewed WhatsApp’s response to these events as apathetic.

However, the company did implement a few changes. WhatsApp put limits on forwarding WhatsApp Limits Forwarding to Fight Fake News WhatsApp is limiting the number of times you can forward a message. This is an effort to fight the spread of misinformation. Read More so you can only forward to five groups, rather than the previous limit of 250. The company also removed the forwarding shortcut button in a number of regions too.

5. WhatsApp Status

For many years, WhatsApp’s status feature, a brief line of text, was the only way for you to broadcast what you were doing at the time. This morphed into WhatsApp Status, a clone of the popular Instagram Stories feature.

Instagram is a platform that is designed to be public, although you can make your profile private if you choose. WhatsApp, on the other hand, is a more intimate service, used for communicating with friends and family. So, you may assume that sharing a Status on WhatsApp is private too.

However, that isn’t the case. Anyone in your WhatsApp contacts can view your Status. Fortunately, it is quite easy to control who you share your Status with.

Navigate to Settings > Account > Privacy > Status and you’ll be shown three privacy choices for your Status updates:

  • My contacts
  • My contacts except…
  • Only share with…

Despite this simplicity, WhatsApp doesn’t make it clear if your blocked contacts can view your Status. However, the company has done the sensible thing, and your blocked contacts are unable to view your Status regardless of your privacy settings. As with Instagram Stories, any videos and photos added to your Status will disappear after 24 hours.

Is WhatsApp Safe?

Now, is WhatsApp safe to use? WhatsApp is a confusing platform. On the one hand, the company implemented end-to-end encryption in one of the world’s most popular apps; a definite security upside. However, there are many WhatsApp security concerns. One of the primary issues is that it is owned by Facebook, and suffers many of the same privacy dangers and misinformation campaigns as their parent company.

If these reasons, along with media file jacking on Android How Media File Jacking Impacts WhatsApp and Telegram on Android Think your Telegram and WhatsApp messages are secure on Android? Think again! Learn about the risks of media file jacking. Read More , challenge your messaging app allegiance, there are WhatsApp alternatives that guard your privacy 4 Slick WhatsApp Alternatives that Guard Your Privacy Facebook bought WhatsApp. Now that we're over the shock of that news, are you worried about your data privacy? Read More . However, if you decide to stick with WhatsApp, check out these tips to chat efficiently on WhatsApp Desktop.

Related topics: Anti-Malware, Online Privacy, WhatsApp.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. O P SINGH
    July 13, 2020 at 7:52 am

    are all these true right now as well?

    • James Frew
      July 13, 2020 at 8:23 am

      Yes, these are large structural issues with WhatsApp that would need major changes to tackle. I updated this article in December 2019, and that information remains current.

  2. Americo Vespucio
    May 12, 2020 at 4:23 am

    Brazil didn't have this misinformation. This topic is misinformed. I live in Brazil and WhatsApp was essential to avoid misinformation from the mainstream media, same as US. Careful what you hear from the left wing socialism spreading fake news like this.

    Brazil had 16 years of left wing presidents that sold everything to communist countries.

    • James Frew
      May 12, 2020 at 8:07 am

      As someone who doesn't live in Brazil, I have no skin in this game. I mentioned the 2018 fake news issue as it was prominent internationally, even requiring a response from Facebook.

      Regardless, this isn't an article about politics; it is about the safety and security of WhatsApp, a messaging app. The phenomenon described here is a well-known issue with WhatsApp.

      Despite the changes implemented in 2018, it continues to a problem. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook has been forced to further limit message forwarding to prevent the spread of fake news;

  3. emanuel
    April 24, 2020 at 6:23 am

    2 years ago i made a whatsapp group and from 1 week by mistake i choice to leave the group..randomly whatsapp put someone else administrator on my group and that guy mess it on my group..i was call whatsapp customer to put me back on the group or to delete it but they said cant do is possible the group who was made it by me, to not have control it and customer service are rubbish,they send me lies in emails..STAY AWAY FROM WHATSAPP AND FACEBOOK ..!

  4. ertr
    January 4, 2020 at 3:47 am

    it works?

  5. Johny O.
    April 25, 2019 at 9:45 am

    One thing about Thor. It was used for a long time for not-so-legal operations and FBI (at least) has the eyes on it. So, I am not at all sure that the data is really that much protected.

    I am not paranoid, but that does not mean that I am not followed :)

    Best regards

    • James Frew
      April 25, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Hey Johny, you've left a comment on my article about WhatsApp security, and I don't mention TOR (which is what I assume you meant when you said Thor).

      You're right that TOR isn't quite as private as it's made out to be though. Like adding a VPN, it's not foolproof, but it offers greater privacy than nothing at all.

      Although you're also right that illegal activity has happened on TOR, that's no different to the rest of the internet, where illegal and dangerous activity happens frequently too.

  6. Das
    October 28, 2018 at 5:22 am

    I really surprise about all the stupid articles about the whatsapp security and the encryption technology. If any two users r so much concern, they can use separate text & message encryption software with key available in play store and transmit that which almost impossible to decrypt by middle man. Ad

    • James Frew
      October 28, 2018 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for your comment. I think that actually we are on the same page about the importance of encryption. If you glance back through some of my articles, you can see I'm not a huge fan of Facebook or WhatsApp, but recognize that a great many people use those platforms. WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption is invaluable in protecting their users. I'm not quite sure what you object to?

  7. aa
    December 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Facebook was built by smartass at the very beginning, who said: "People who trust me are "dumb f*cks", and oferred his clients/students data he had managed.
    Whatsapp was a trustworthy app at the very beginning, built by honest guys who put "NO SHIT ALLOWED (no games no ads no gimmick)" as their reminder note.
    And the price of that "honesty" was: 19 billion dollars, when Facebook bought whatsapp.

  8. Alfred
    September 30, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Whats is very helpful in matters of privency

  9. diana
    August 16, 2017 at 7:26 am

    when I was doing end to end encryption with my best friend it showed the name on encryption page as you and another person's name whose chat I deleted an hours ago. please reply me soon.

    • James Frew
      August 16, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Were you using WhatsApp for this conversation? If so there is nothing you need to perform for E2EE as it is enabled as default. I'm not sure what you mean by the encryption page - could you explain further? I'm also not clear what you believe the problem to be.

  10. Fik of Borg
    March 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Isn't Whatsapp messages supossed to be encrypted from end to end, UNREADABLE in transit, even to Whatsapp itself, its owners, the NSA or anyone?
    I mention this because I have a couple of narrow semi-obscure chat topics (nothing ilegal!) with some contacts, and it has happened to me several times that ads related to the very same topics appear in my Facebook news page. I get that Facebook owns Whatsapp and they have mutual access to each other contacts, but how can they read my messages if they are encrypted? That besides the fact that I specifically opted out of information sharing to Facebook as soon as that choice was available.

    • James Frew
      March 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      You are right that WhatsApp is E2E encrypted, and the Facebook/WhatsApp data sharing should only relate to metadata (i.e. data about the messages and not message content like date, time, location, recipient etc.).

      It seems more likely that if you have interests in those topics then the far reaching and often invisible ad networks have relayed that to FB ads through a one-off search or similar relating to those topics.

      Facebook does allow you to adjust your ad preferences, and in some cases it will even tell you why they believe those topics interest you. We did a guide to it here //

      • Fik of Borg
        March 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm

        Thanks for your comment! {clicks on link for later reading}

        The "invisible ad networks" detecting my interest is very plausible and even useful, but it is still a suspicious coincidence that those ads often appear in Facebook minutes after I chat in Whatsapp about the related topic.

        • James Frew
          March 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm

          Another thing to try out if you are interested in minimizing ad-data is the search engine DuckDuckGo which doesn't track your searches to provide ads.

  11. arbaz
    February 6, 2017 at 9:52 am

    this happened 1day before
    i was searching my history on YouTube and at same time a message came on Watsapp
    after opening the notification a message was sent automatically to one of my group of the link i was buffering on
    and yesterday itself when i was searching my gallery for family picture notification appeared and same thing happens the picture gets sent to one of my teachers am Totally helpless please provide me a solution
    I formatted my phone and reinstalled my watsapp stil there's no solution

    • Dann Albright
      February 6, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      That's very strange; the only thing I can think of is that you're inadvertently using a share function. Especially if you reset your phone. Is that possible?

  12. Lior
    November 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

    I have a phone only for a personal use.
    I install on it whatsapp, and moved all of my contacts to it.
    I know that whatsapp, when granted permission to the contacts, start to send all of them messages.

    Is there a way to prevent from it to happen and still give the permission to the contacts ?,

    Thanks !

    • Dann Albright
      November 12, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      It shouldn't be sending any messages to people without your permission. Are you sure you didn't hit a button to invite people to use it? If not, that sounds like a malfunction or potentially a hack. Reinstall it and see what happens.

  13. Piku
    October 24, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Hi dan, ur post is really informative..but my question is still unanswerable. I use gb whatsapp in which i have the feature to freeze my last seen. Few days ago my last seen was freezed but in my friends phn my last seen was the real time. Next day i realized that my whasapp is hacked. I uninstalled my whatsapp and after that it was okkk. I also deleted it for few hours as well. But havnt noted any suspicion. But today when i was in whatsapp call with my dad i heard some background noices that was unfamiliar to me and dad as well. I want to know is my whatsapp still hacked and how to protect me. Few days ago my friend took my phone for few minitues. Is it possible that he has taken my mac address. If my whatsapp is still hacked how could i track the hacker. Should i stop using it. Plz reply asap. Thanks in advance

    • Dann Albright
      October 26, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Hm, that does sound a bit suspicious. I'd stop using it. If you absolutely need to use it, maybe a backup, wipe, and restore of your phone before reinstalling it would help.

  14. Brij kumar
    September 27, 2016 at 3:11 am

    What about Rapid_Share app in Google play? It does not require any intermediate server.

    • Dann Albright
      October 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      Is it another messaging client? I'm not familiar with it.

  15. Tel Ganeson
    August 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    My ex wife and I have been texting on Whatsapp behind all my girlfriends about how to take money from them. Can anyone see those messages? I am panicking.

  16. Shady
    August 23, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Apple and Facebook have had concerted efforts to persecute certain individuals whom promote free speech on digital systems. Android isn't any better but the fact still raises eyebrows at the acquisition of the Whatsapp Business. Apple released all icloud emails and facebook released messages with other entities and gave over the forensic internet life of individuals. Your ISP doesn't respect you and intends to make a cash cow off of users. Secure messaging will take off and beg greater responsibility and trust on the users.

    • Dann Albright
      August 31, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      I'm not sure I totally understand your comment . . . when did Apple and Facebook work together to persecute digital free speech proponents? Do you have some examples? Also, what do you mean "Apple released all icloud emails"?

  17. Natalie Howard
    August 17, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Does whatsapp link to gmail? I added a good looking Hungarian man to my whasapp and a few hours later my gmail reported an attempted hack from Budapest. How do I delete my details from his whatsapp?

    • Dann Albright
      August 21, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      As far as I'm aware, there's no link between WhatsApp and Gmail; certainly none that I've never heard of, anyway. How did you get the report of the attempted hack? I'm not sure you can delete your details from his copy of the app, but you might be able to block him, which is probably the next best thing.

  18. Angelique
    July 20, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I think whatsapp is texting me somehow using my boss's phone number! i get a text from "my boss" requesting to communicate via whatsapp. i said i dont have the memory space (i have a shitty defected android) to which she immediately replied lol.... my boss 1. Never replies immediately and 2. would never just send "lol". i got two more texts from my boss's number suggesting i use google to store my photos to free up enough space to get the app, to which i explained even if i didnt have photos my phone would continue to say it was full (which is true). i never got a reply after this. now i'm upset because i was actually expecting an important text from my boss, and instead i got this wierd conversation and never actually got the information i needed. when i asked her to send me the information she still never replied (which is what she usually does to me anyway) but still.. why would she have a conversation about whatsapp and not send me the vital information she was SUPPOSED to??? i think she may have had the app on her phone and it went through her contacts to ask me to install it. (like an advertisement) its freaking creepy.

    • Dann Albright
      July 25, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Sounds to me like someone may have gotten a hold of your boss's phone. While WhatsApp might recommend sending an automated message to people in your contacts list to recommend they join, I'm sure it wouldn't say "lol."

  19. ritz
    July 20, 2016 at 6:20 am

    i have an issue. i deactivated my number and i am not using whatsapp, but one of my friend told me he was chating with me and uploading my pictures and my number is still online on whatsapp.. what should i do

    • Dann Albright
      July 25, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      That's strange; I'd get in touch with WhatsApp support and see what they say about it.

      • Arun
        June 19, 2017 at 5:06 am

        The same issue happend for me also.
        There is any chance to get that person to my chat history.

    • Rolfen
      August 18, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Maybe someone else got your number. I had this as well. My number went to a child. Some friends were still sending him messages and wondering why there was a 11 year old boy in my profile pic.

      • Dann Albright
        August 21, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        That's also a possibility; I still get calls on my current number for the person who used to have it.

  20. Jack
    June 13, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I am concerned that someone may have hacked my watsapp. Is it possible that someone living thousands of miles away (has no access to my networks, wifi or phone) may be able to hack my watsapp in real time? Also, can a person intercept my skype calls or IMs even if they are not a contact of mine?

    • Dann Albright
      June 13, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      Anything's possible, though I doubt it would be easy to do that, especially with WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption. As for Skype or IM, if they had access to your account, they could probably see what you're saying. I suppose the same is true for WhatsApp. Your best bet is to change all of your passwords and terminate any sessions other than the one you're currently running, I'd say.

  21. anonymous
    May 19, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Surely Whatsapp has security threat, most recent someone automatically deleted whatapp along with some other apps and it happened middle of the night and when i wake up in the morning i thought i accidentally deleted then i reintalled whatsapp again, and then i came to know that some messages sent to group from my phone, how is this possible? i contacted whatsapp and they saying the thirdparty applications that installed my phone might did that, so what they saying is that the third parties can hack into whatsapp, so where is the security?

    • Dann Albright
      May 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Hm; that's a problem I haven't heard of before. Are you on an Android phone? And is it rooted? That could potentially cause problems with other apps having access to things that they shouldn't. While WhatsApp's communications are secure, I'm sure there are ways other apps can attack the app itself.

  22. Raffles
    May 7, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    My problem is that I can't get Telegram to work on my mobile phone which has a Ubuntu operating system. I haven't been able to find a fix for it. It seems that the problem has been reported on the developer website, but even after the last update, it won't work.

    • Dann Albright
      May 9, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      Ah, that would be a problem indeed. To be completely honest, I don't know the first thing about Ubuntu mobile, so I can't give you any advice. Hopefully someone else out there can recommend a fix or enough people request Ubuntu support that Telegram prioritizes it!

  23. Ivy
    April 29, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    This article is from last year but are these concerns still relevant today????

    • Dann Albright
      May 3, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      I believe they fixed the crashing problem, but web malware and bad links are definitely still a problem. I haven't heard anything about monitoring apps, but because of the end-to-end encryption that they recently turned on, I'd say it's relatively unlikely that they're as effective. I'll keep an eye out for information on any of these things and let you know if I hear anything!

  24. Vijai Jasrotia
    March 24, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Another option is Avaamo. It is a secure enterprise messaging platform. Its client is free on Apple store or google store. If you want an enterprise management control there is a cost involved.

    • Dann Albright
      March 25, 2016 at 2:14 am

      Interesting . . . have you used it? What do you think of it?

  25. Jip
    November 20, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I use Signal. Pretty secure.

    • Dann Albright
      November 23, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      I've never heard of Signal; is it like other messaging programs, like Telegram or Threema? And is it cross-platform?

    • Adam
      April 27, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Signal is getting more and more popular. However, I also use Wire, EU made with strong encryption and European Privacy law. Less popular than Signal but it`s all about marketing.

      By the way, I deleted WA 3 days ago even though many contacts are there. All FB related is data selling. Today I redownload WA because of the reason I stated above, however it was the first time I took very close look at their Privacy rules. I read everything and then clocked DELETE instead of Accept. Who wants to reach me, they will find the way. Meanwhile, I try to invite more ppl to Wire and Signal. Not easy task because it`s like an FB drug where everyone is stuck forever and see no other options. Pity

  26. nmk71227
    June 3, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    WhatsApp: An app by buffoons for stalkers First, before I go on to the problems, let's see what good the app does. It allows one to call or send messages using internet connection. That was possible a decade ago using email accounts which is still available on any device on which WhatsApp runs. The difference? It doesn't need an email id and works with a phone number you have access to. Not bad. Pretty simple and straight forward, but is it handled properly by the app developers? NO. Here is why. It automatically uses your addressbook to add people you know, which in itself is no issue, but here is the big problem: it shows contacts using WhatsApp automatically, without any permission or anything like that. Only thing one needs to know if you are available on WhatsApp is your phone number. That can be bad in too many ways. 1. I have been using the same number for over 10 years, and a lot of people are sure to have my number on their contacts list even if it was a one-time affair a decade ago. They end up seeing me in their WhatsApp contacts, and I see them in turn, which is ridiculous unless I have a way to block it. No, I do not mean the 'Block' option... why do I have to block every single person I may have known once upon a time just to use a service I want to use to chat with friends??? Even the contacts I have hidden in my addressbook end up in my WhatsApp contacts, and disabling 'Show all contacts' in WhatsApp settings does nothing to get rid of them. Additionally, they end up in my addressbook as WhatsApp contacts even if I have them hidden in my original contacts. There is no way to hide WhatsApp contacts partially from cluttering your addressbook, and for some reason even if I disable WhatsApp contacts completely on addressbook, they still show up (could be a bug). A sample situation: all my classmates, teachers may have my contact number that I used in school, but I have contact with only a few currently, and have no intention of announcing to all of them that I have signed up for WhatsApp. Is that too much to ask for from a chat application??? I do not want to block anyone, I just do not want to advertise this either, simple. 2. It is a huge privacy leak if you consider the fact that WhatsApp defaults, unless (and then until) you change them, will show your details (profile pictures, status) to those unwanted contacts (an app for stalkers, in short). 3. What if you have a dual SIM phone with different numbers for personal and professional use? Forget that privacy if you want to use WhatsApp, they think 'differently'. What if you have only one SIM, but change devices often? You may get blocked. 4. There is no way to change WhatsApp contacts. I have this strange issue with couples with multiple contact numbers: one person is currently using the number for phone calls that the other had registered for WhatsApp initially. So if I change that in my addressbook according to call usage, WhatsApp will show the wrong contacts, and I have no way to edit this. 5. Similar situations can arise for young people without a phone number if they use their parents' (extra) phone number to register for WhatsApp. 6. Not directly related, but once I had changed my WhatsApp number to a new one, which is supposed to delete the old number, but I can still send messages to that number as it is there in my phonebook. This just shows how broken the app is. The fact that the WhatsApp developers took it for granted that one would invariably chat with all contacts in their contact book (plumber, electrician, etc) and that they need to clutter one's addressbook no matter whether one wants or not, is ridiculous. This is the reason I can't help thinking that the app must have been made by buffoons, sorry. And yes, for unsuspecting young girls, those utility guys can stalk you easily unless you are too careful about using this oversimplified app. Only if WhatsApp had an option to search your contacts and add people manually to WhatsApp, allowing you to choose who are in your contact and if they get to see that you are using WhatsApp until you add them personally. That is, I have 100 contacts in phonebook, I add 10 to WhatsApp, then either allow all of them to see me or manually add them to chat/call when I need to. The only problem to this step is, how do I know if the other person is using WhatsApp or not? Simple, I know if I know. That is, if that person shared that info with me. In short, no way for stalkers with your phone number to know you are there in WhatsApp, much the same way email accounts work, everyone has one, but you get it when it is shared with you. I know WhatsApp takes advantage of one's phone number to connect with others, but it still can have its own ways to filter people in the addressbook to add for chat. I know using a smartphone is not safe by any means, google itself will stalk you to death if you do. But even google shares with your acquaintances only as much info as you do. I have a dual SIM phone and I have taken a new SIM for WhatsApp and let only those know it whom I want to. So I have no issues with stalkers or privacy, mostly. But I get annoyed seeing the unwanted contacts in the app everyday, and also can easily see how a stalker can use the app to track when people go to vacation, where, when they fall in love, marry or break up, and what not. I am writing this up in an attempt to knock WhatsApp developers to their senses, and if not, warn some unsuspecting users of its strange ways by sharing this info wherever I can.

    • Archer
      December 16, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      1. they dont know your name unless they asked you directly... did they get your phone number? if they got it from the internet I doubt blaming watsapp for it is stupid...

      I think you are being paranoid....

      • Ant
        February 17, 2016 at 8:55 am

        2. You gave it to them 5 years ago before WA existed not suspecting that one day WA would share your info with them based on them having your number in their phonebook.... I mean, I give my number out to LOADS of people I wouldn't want to share anything with...

  27. Manoj Kumar
    April 7, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Is anybody here to solution how we secure what's app no. to unregistered . They don't sent message on your what's app with out block that number ...........

  28. Dashrender
    March 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    BBM is worthless now. Any data that flows through the Middle East servers is completely readable by the local authorities there. BB bowed to government pressure a few years ago and gave the keys to them instead of being tossed out.

    • Dann Albright
      March 12, 2015 at 7:49 am

      This is something I hadn't heard of . . . do you have any links to where I can read more about this?

  29. Frank Jones
    February 28, 2015 at 5:50 am

    If you want a real secure alternative , with lot more feature than Whatsapp an many other , Try BBM , it is available for all platform IOS Droids and windows phone ,,, and it Free ,....

    • Dann Albright
      March 2, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      You're certainly not alone in backing BBM—as far as I know, it's a really good option. To be honest, I haven't looked into it all that much. The only thing I imagine is a problem is adoption—if I tell someone that they should download Telegram so they can text me in the UK from the US, they'll just go and do it. But if I tell them to download BBM, it's possible that they'll think they won't be able to if they're not on a BlackBerry. Other than that small disadvantage, though, it's definitely a good way to go!

  30. Joan Aronowitz
    February 28, 2015 at 5:01 am

    what is bbm?

    • bharath
      February 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Blackberry messenger

    • Dashrender
      March 9, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      What other apps control the local key only within the app on the single device and don't share it with a centralized server like all the rest do? Granted this makes it nearly, if not, impossible to move from device to device, but it also ensures your security and that you don't have any else tapping your messages.

    • Dann Albright
      March 12, 2015 at 7:49 am

      I believe TextSecure keeps the encryption key locally, and it definitely does all encryption and decryption locally. That seems to be a pretty solid app.

  31. Dashrender
    February 27, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Threema, a truly secure messaging platform.

    • Dann Albright
      March 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      I reviewed Threema a while ago, and didn't find that it was better than the free options (or at least enough to warrant paying for it). I haven't looked at it in quite a while, though; maybe it's more worth the cost now. What do you like about it?

    • Andy
      March 12, 2015 at 8:10 am

      I use it everyday and I have more trust in Threema because their servers are in Switzerland and you can check the encryption progress. A friend from Germany told me that they even won a price for the best secure messaging app from a independent organization - I guess that’s why it’s such a big thing in Germany. Newly they have a poll function within chats and groupchats.

    • Dann Albright
      March 15, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Interesting! I'll have to check it out. Are Swiss servers as highly reputed as Swiss banks?

    • muzhik
      May 25, 2015 at 2:13 am

      Threema FTW, also new messaging app Bleep p2p (BitTorrent) seems to be going in the right direction as far as secure txting goes.

    • Dann Albright
      May 25, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Threema is a great way to go. I'm not familiar with Bleep—sounds really interesting, though! Thanks for mentioning it.

  32. Anonymous
    February 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Bbm is the best!

    • Dann Albright
      February 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Matt Hughes, is that you? :-)

  33. jodi
    February 26, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I use. Go. SMS pro. For messaging. Have you heard about.problem S's. With that? App

    • Dann Albright
      February 27, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      I'm not familiar with Go SMS Pro, and I haven't heard anything bad (or good) about it. How do you like it? How secure is it?

  34. Mota
    February 25, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Telegram ftw!

    They added today a feature that allows users to lock the app with a code. Plus, i can use it on tablet and pc seamless. No need for webversion's crap.

    Good article.

    • Dann Albright
      February 26, 2015 at 7:37 am

      The code lock is a great idea! I'm more and more impressed with Telegram all the time. Definitely leading the way in the messaging game.