Security Social Media

How Safe Are My Photos on WhatsApp?

Anya Zhukova Updated 01-01-2019

Millions of people use WhatsApp to send pictures, messages, and other confidential information to friends and family members around the world. The amount of people who use WhatsApp suggests that many people find it safe, or safe enough.


But what else should you know about WhatsApp security Is WhatsApp Safe? 5 Security Threats Users Need to Know About WhatsApp security is a challenge. It's a favorite target of scammers and hackers. Is WhatsApp safe? Here's what you need to know. Read More ? Are the photos you share on WhatsApp safe, for example? In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about WhatsApp security.

Defining Safety for WhatsApp Photos

whatsapp phone
Image Credit: antonbe/Pixabay

First things first, let’s discuss the term safe. Since safe is such an ambiguous term and means something entirely different to different people, we’re going to assume from now on that safe means protected, in that your pictures, messages, and other information are not easily accessible from a third-party observer, whether that’s someone in the next room or a hacker lurking out of sight.

So, with the definition set, let’s discuss whether WhatsApp is safe. Again, meaning that your information is secure from prying eyes.

WhatsApp Safety Measures Explained

Image Credit: Thomas Breher/Pixabay


WhatsApp says it continually protects your data and content against would-be prying eyes and hackers. The company states on its website that it uses safeguards to preserve the security of your personal information. It also promises that messages sent over WhatsApp are encrypted WhatsApp Encryption: It's Now the Most Secure Instant Messenger (Or is it?) Since being acquired by Facebook, WhatsApp has been forced to clean up its approach to security and privacy, which resulted in the news last year that it has introduced new encryption measures. Read More , which means any information you send is reverted to code to prevent against unauthorized access. This is key. Even with good encryption, a hacker would be hard-pressed to obtain your data.

WhatsApp also recommends not using unprotected Wi-Fi or other networks to send messages, as doing so could result in third-party hackers obtaining your information. This is also a key point and one that users should be aware of, as most hacking is done through third-party applications.

WhatsApp states that it cannot guarantee against any such breach if one were to occur, but that it will notify the recipient if an event does happen. These are necessary legalities for such an expansive application.

Further still, and this is also very important, WhatsApp claims it does not store any messages—including your photos—on its servers. It only does so until your message is sent to the receiving phone. If the recipient of the message doesn’t receive the message after 30 days, the message will get deleted.


What Is There to Worry About on WhatsApp?

Even though WhatsApp is always working towards improving online security The Complete Guide to Improving Your Online Security and Defending Your Privacy Everyone wants your data, reputable companies and criminals alike. If you want to build up your defenses and protect yourself online, let us guide you through how to improve your security and safeguard your privacy. Read More , keep in mind that hacks do happen. Hackers who want to pry on your information and steal your photos can and will find ways, and they mostly do so when you’re using insecure networks, like airport Wi-Fi.

Leaks can also happen after your message is sent. If the recipient of your photo carelessly leaves their phone open to be seen by others, your photo can be viewed and shared.

How to Be More Secure on WhatsApp

security lock
Image Credit: Mark Hultgren/Pixabay

There’s nothing you can do about WhatsApp’s network. If it says the network is secure, you’ll just have to take WhatsApp’s word for it. You can, however, protect your WhatsApp photos by doing a few simple things.


First, use networks you’re familiar with or a VPN server when you’re not sure. ExpressVPN is one of the most secure and reliable VPNs out there.

Lock your phone. Don’t make it easy for would-be hackers. Keep your phone locked and away from prying eyes.

Avoid scams. If you get a message that seems fishy, don’t click on anything or reply. WhatsApp says it will never contact you, so don’t follow any links offering anything free. Avoid these messages completely.

Keep your profile hidden. Google’s reverse image search is a nifty tool for anyone wanting to find more information about a photo. If that photo is a picture of you, anyone wanting to find out where your profile picture has been used before can do so easily. And they could then find out more information about you. So, keep your profile hidden and no one can reverse image search your profile picture.


Make Sure Your Private Photos Stay Private

Last but not least, block your WhatsApp photos from appearing on your phone’s photo albums. WhatsApp gives you the option of storing photos sent and received on the app to your phone. If you send a discreet photo while having this option turned on, that same discreet photo will show up on your phone’s photo album and could be more easily accessible.

You can turn off this feature in the WhatsApp app. To do this on Android, open the app and go to the main window with all your chats. Then tap the three vertical dots on the top right to go to Settings. Now tap Data and Storage Usage. Under Media auto-download you’ll find three options: when using cellular data, when connected on Wi-Fi and when roaming. Tap each one to disable auto-downloads.

On iOS, you also have an option to turn off media auto-download in the app’s Settings menu. Open WhatsApp and go to Settings. Then tap on Data and Storage Usage. Choose Media auto-download from the menu. Select the Never option for photos, audio, videos, and documents. Doing so should prevent your shared photos and other files on WhatsApp from being saved to the phone’s photo stream.

Also, check out how media file jacking impacts apps like WhatsApp 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 on Android.

Put Your Security First on WhatsApp

whatsapp isnt secure

Put simply, WhatsApp can be easily susceptible when used over insecure Wi-Fi or other networks. Your photos, phone numbers, and other information can be made easily available for hackers who want your data.

Nothing is truly 100 percent secure. If someone wants to obtain your photos and information, they can most likely acquire it because of something you’ve done, and not via WhatsApp’s own network.

But there are measures out there that you can take to be as secure as possible. Be smart about who you send photos to. Be smarter about what types of photos you send. And be sure to follow these simple tips to stay safe online 8 Tips for Online Safety Used by Security Experts Want to stay safe online? Then forget everything you think you know about passwords, antivirus and online security because it's time to be retrained. Here's what the experts actually do. Read More .

Related topics: Online Privacy, Online Security, Photo Sharing, Smartphone Privacy, WhatsApp.

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  1. Jetset Kaos Bandung
    August 2, 2019 at 10:15 am

    ok good

  2. Speiro
    April 20, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Under the 'Make Sure Your Private Photos Stay Private' section it mentions how to stop auto-save to gallery. If auto-download is off when items are manually downloaded they still save to the phone's gallery. To stop this on Androids tap the three dots in the chat menu then 'Settings' then 'Chats' and at the bottom make sure the 'Show media in gallery' option is unchecked. On iPhones in WhatsApp go to 'Settings' then 'Chats' then deselect 'Save to Camera Roll'. Also I think, regardless of setting, sent items are never saved to gallery, only received ones

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  5. Licassa
    September 23, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    I even dont know even whatsapp could be hacked or fully secured but main thing is that *someone had told me that he had done any setting in any system in whatsapp and could read out my conversations even if i m doing it with anyone else and even that person can take my pics even i had send that pic to anyone else that pic automatically saves in that person's device*
    Is there is any system in whatsapp or not *please reply*

    • Sareef Varafaru
      November 7, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      He might have installed some spying app on ur phone..just reset your phone and never give your phone to someone like him..

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    May 25, 2017 at 10:09 pm

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  7. Fik of borg
    March 16, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    What worries me is the storage of sent or received pictures in whatsapp servers.

    One can delete the image file in the phone (located in "/Whatsapp/Media/Whatsapp Images" in android) and the image gets blurred in the chat screen and can not be enlarged to full screen, but it is kept in whatsapp web with no obvious (to me) means to delete it.
    I know one can delete the message the image was originally attached to, and that deletes (at least hides) the message also on whatsapp web, image and all, but it not unusual to want to keep the message while deleting the picture.

    • Shay Meinecke
      March 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      I'll check this out (once my phone is fixed) and get back to you on this. cheers

  8. Anonymous
    March 15, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    The number of people - not the amount of people.

    Your friendly grammar police. :)

    • Shay Meinecke
      March 22, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      I noticed it too after it was published. Silly mistake, which I seem to making as of late. Thanks for being "friendly" about it :)