WhatsApp has become a universally popular app, partially because it allows users to send messages, share photos and make calls for free.
Many also feel confident about the level of security that WhatsApp provides. But how secure is it really?
Well, it depends.
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What Is WhatsApp?
For those that have not used the application before, WhatsApp is a free internet-based messaging application. It is owned by Facebook, but it is not an extension of Facebook. This is important to know because some people assume that it has all of Facebook’s resources and security measures. That is not the case.
WhatsApp was not originally developed by Facebook. This too is important to know because although Facebook lends credibility to the application, the security features are very different depending on which version of the application you use, how often you update your version and what settings you have activated.
Is The App Secure?
In the latest version of the application, WhatsApp claims that all communications are encrypted “end to end.” This means your messages and calls should be secure to the point that only you and the person you are communicating with can read or listen to them. Not even WhatsApp should have access to your calls or texts. However, WhatsApp is still fairly new and there is no such thing as a perfectly secure application.
That being said, if you are going to communicate by text or phone using any app, you should always assume that the information could be accessed by someone else. A cautious approach is an intelligent approach.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Improve My Level Of Security?
Yes. There are actually a few things you can do.
1. Update the app. As discussed previously, the version of the app is crucial to its potential to be secure. Always ensure that you’re using the most current version and don’t be afraid to fully uninstall, delete and reboot your phone before reinstalling the most current version of any app. Sometimes this is the only way to shake loose any unwanted code.
2. Enable two-step verification. When you have two-step verification enabled, any attempt to verify your phone number on WhatsApp must be accompanied by the six-digit PIN that you created using this feature. To enable two-step verification:
- Open WhatsApp
- Go to Settings
- Two-step verification
- Choose “Enable”
Very Important: Upon enabling two-step verification you will be given an option to add an email address. It is critical that you enter a valid email address and update it if you ever change email addresses because this is the only way to unlock your account if you forget your six-digit PIN.
3. Make sure Live Location is turned off. WhatsApp has a built-in feature which allows those that you communicate with to see your location unless you specifically disable the feature.
To stop sharing your live location in a specific chat or group:
- Open the chat or group
- Tap “Stop sharing” and then select “STOP”
To stop sharing your live location in all chats and groups at once:
- Tap “Menu”
- Live location
- Tap “Stop sharing”
- Select “STOP”
4. Don’t install enhancements. There are countless “hacks” and malicious software apps available for purchase and use on the internet, which claim to “enhance” WhatsApp or “compromise” WhatsApp to allow data to be viewed or taken without permission. While we have not reviewed these third-party apps for their quality or effectiveness, any third party software may actually weaken WhatsApp’s ability to keep your information secure.
If you’re not completely comfortable with WhatsApp’s security level, use it sparingly. If you think that someone may have already gained access to your information, you should advise your legal team, back up any critical data and have your phone factory reset by your service provider.
As always, if you don’t think that what you’re communicating should be said or written publicly, then don’t say or write it. Nothing is more secure than simply keeping that information to yourself!