WhatsApp is one of the most popularly used messaging platforms given its ease-of-use and the fact that you can accomplish so much on it for free. From video calls to voice messages to sharing media files, WhatsApp has made a lot of things much simpler for its users.
The messaging app has been in a bit of trouble lately thanks to authorities like the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) getting hold of some old WhatsApp messages in the ongoing Bollywood drug case. This got most users worried about the privacy and security of their private messages.
WhatsApp spoke up about this and explained that all WhatsApp messages are protected by end-to-end encryption and even WhatsApp cannot read them.
However, while all of this sounds great, there are still things you can do to ensure that your WhatsApp chats remain private and secure so as others cannot get to it. WhatsApp has said that while chats in the app are protected if they have been backed up on Google Drive or the iCloud, they can be hacked.
So, to make sure you are protected, here are three very easy things you can do –
1. Enable two-factor authentication
You can protect the app on your smartphone with a two-factor authentication protection. If you download WhatsApp on a new phone and try to log in, WhatsApp will send a verification code to your registered number. You will need this registration code to be able to sign in and use WhatsApp. Besides your registered phone number, the code is another way for WhatsApp to ensure that the right user is logging in.
In case you suddenly get a code from WhatsApp when you have not prompted for one, ignore it and do not share it with anyone at all – not even family and friends. Hackers often pose as acquaintances and try to take over WhatsApp accounts by pretending to have gotten locked out of their own.
Remember – WhatsApp is never going to send you a code unless you prompt it.
2. Lock your app
Most smartphones these days give you an option to lock the app with a passcode or biometrics like your fingerprint or face ID. If your smartphone allows you to lock the app, you should do it.
By any chance if you ever forget your phone anywhere or leave it unattended, no one but you will be able to open your WhatsApp. Also, not just WhatsApp, you should also lock other important apps like your bank apps and payment apps.
3. Turn off chat backups
WhatsApp gives you the option to back up all your chats. You can do it every day, every week or every month, as it suits you. However, while WhatsApp chats are end-to-end encrypted, once these chats get saved on Google Drive or iCloud, they no longer are and can be hacked.
The only way to prevent this is to not keep chat back ups.
Besides giving you the option to decide how often you want your chats to be backed up, it also gives you the option to turn it off. If you think you don’t needs back-ups of your chats, you need to go to Settings and select ‘Never’ or ‘Only when I tap “Back up”’ as you want. This way, the chats will only get back up when you manually do it
While this is one way to ensure that no chats are saved and can be hacked, you will have no back-up unless you manually do it, but it is a safer bet. What this essentially means is, if you change phones, you will not be able to restore your old chats on your new phone, they are lost to you for all practical purposes – unless whoever you were speaking to has saved it and shares the file with you.