Security is the most important step in online presence on WhatsApp and it’s in our hands and you/we must be very careful when sharing, chatting, sending attachments, etc. I have collected some useful tips for you when you are on WhatsApp on your Android or iOS devices, follow these simple tips to protect yourself from your online presence on WhatsApp.
- Privacy Settings for Last Seen, Profile Picture, and About: Make sure your privacy settings are set at least on “My Contacts.” It’s not a good practice to keep your profile picture public, especially in the case of underage kids. When your last seen is set on “Everyone,” no-contacts can see when you use WhatsApp, and learn your habits.
- Privacy Settings for Groups: This is the most important privacy setting, and it should be updated very often when you add a new contact in your address book. The best option to select is “My Contacts Except…” > Select All, and you have to repeat this step every time you add a new contact. In this case, when someone tries to add you to a group, you won’t be added to the group immediately, but you can receive an invite privately. This is very important because any strangers might add you to bad groups, that trigger WhatsApp servers in order to ban you. It is important to exclude all contacts because someone might steal the account of your friends.
- Privacy Settings for Status: You should always have control over things you send to your status updates. By default, when you send a new status update, WhatsApp forwards it to all your contacts but, in some cases, you might want to exclude specific contacts using “My Contacts Except…”. I recommend you to select “Only Share With…”, by selecting your close friends.
- Report contacts and groups: If you receive weird messages from unknown contacts or someone is disturbing you, you can Report Contact in the Contact Info. Note that, when you report a contact, you’re forwarding to WhatsApp the most recent messages received from the contact. If you have been added to a group from unknown contacts without any authorization, you can Report Group from Group Info.
- Stay away from malicious and fake news: When you receive a message make sure you have to check its authenticity. The fact that you have received news on WhatsApp doesn’t mean it’s real (Some people are still believing this type of fake news and forwarded it to other persons, so please ignore that fake news). You can recognize malicious, phishing, and fake news when they have forwarded messages and they ask to forward the message to your contacts, or when there are weird links. WhatsApp highlights when a message contains a suspicious link, but a normal link might be also dangerous. When you have some doubt about the authenticity of a message, you can search it on the web so you can find useful information on the internet. Don’t hurry, take your time to be sure the message is real. Be also sure that the contact is reliable. For example, it’s very unlikely WhatsApp will contact you to ask for your 6-digit code, or because your WhatsApp account is going to expire. So please just avoid this type of weird news or link as well as the fake attachment.
- He is your friend, but he might not be: Some people can steal WhatsApp accounts and they can contact you from the account of your friend, pretending to be him. If your friend is asking for something very confidential, for example, money, credit card information, a 6-digit code, ask him for a voice message or call him to be sure it’s really your friend the person you’re chatting with.
- Enable biometric authentication to lock WhatsApp: Your WhatsApp chats might contain important information about you and other people. You can enable WhatsApp App Lock within WhatsApp Settings > Account > Privacy (Fingerprint Lock & Screen Lock for iOS is available), if your device supports these features. When you enable App Lock on WhatsApp, any attempt to create a WhatsApp Web session will also be blocked if the user doesn’t confirm his identity using biometric authentication.
- Enable Two-Step Verification: The best way to protect your account is to enable the Two-Step Verification within WhatsApp Settings, providing a 6-digit code and valid mail address. Remember to protect your mail address too, enabling the Two-Step Verification for your mail service too, and you must use a strong password. When someone tries to get access to your WhatsApp account, and you receive an SMS containing the 6-digit code:
- You should ignore those messages.
- You don’t have to post screenshots of those messages on social networks, because they contain a link to validate the access to the WhatsApp account and the 6-digit code. If you post a screenshot that contains the 6-digit code somewhere, and the person that wants to steal your WhatsApp account has a profile there, you’re giving away your account easily.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP to reporting the situation. When you report it to WhatsApp, you’re protecting yourself from anything bad that might happen later, because if the person will be able to get your account and he will do bad things, at least you can tell WhatsApp that you already notified them and they might not take any action against you, if what you’re saying is true.
- Respect the privacy of your son, but not too much: I’m not saying you have to check for any incoming message from the device of your son, but you should have a major interest in his virtual life, in order to protect him from dangers on the Internet. Try to have a good dialogue with your son and explain what’s bad. Be sure he talks with trusted people you know and why. Note that, if you live in a country in the European Region, your son must be at least 16 years old to use WhatsApp (or the age required in your country to use these services, but at least 16 years old), otherwise he must be at least 13 years old.
- You can send and revoke, but nothing is safe: If you believe that sending a confidential message or media is safe because you can easily delete the message for everyone, you’re using disappearing messages or you will send it as self-destructing media (available in a future update), you’re wrong. People might save or forward the message before you revoke it or before the message disappears/expires. You should always pay attention to things you send on WhatsApp.
- Always keep updated your WhatsApp version: It’s very important to stay on the latest version available on the App Store or Google Play Store because WhatsApp updates also bring security fixes.
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