Worried that third parties may access your WhatsApp chats, video calls, audio calls, and private photos? I put this guide together to help you learn the security features that WhatsApp has. Also, I will teach you why it’s safe to use the app, and how to enhance your security when using WhatsApp.
Is WhatsApp safe to use? Is WhatsApp a security risk? How can I secure my WhatsApp? Many people often ask these questions and more, and if you’re one of them, then you’ve come to the right place. By reading this post, not only will you have answers to the questions above and more. But you can learn how to keep your WhatsApp safe.
It gets even better.
I will share the security features that make WhatsApp safe and the steps to help you secure your WhatsApp mobile app. It’s all legit.
But first, I would like to tell you more about me. I am Frankie, your Italian nerdy friend raised on pizza, spaghetti, and social media.
This post delves into the world of online security and helps to answer the question: is WhatsApp safe? I also discuss the security features built into the mobile app as well as steps to enhance your safety and security when using WhatsApp. To get these tips right in your inbox, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.
Before beginning, I would like to inform my esteemed readers that this guide is available in two parts:
- You learn the security features that make WhatsApp safe and secure.
- You learn the tips and steps to enhance your safety and security on WhatsApp.
- FAQs – The Frequently Asked Questions
Ready to get started?
Let’s jump in!
The technology tips shared with you in this post will help you secure your WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a secure app but it’s not 100% foolproof. Through malicious links shared in WhatsApp groups and chats, hackers can gain access to your data.
Is WhatsApp Safe to Use?
Cyberhacking has been on the rise over the past few years. In fact, many people have lost personal data as a result of using vulnerable apps and devices.
So, is WhatsApp safe to use? The simple answer is yes, WhatsApp is safe to use.
Here is why.
End-To-End Encrypted Chats
When you launch WhatsApp and want to message one of your contacts, you also encounter the following message. “Messages to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption.” Well, WhatsApp is simply informing you and other users that all your messages and calls are always secure.
One major security feature that helps to ensure WhatsApp is secure is end-to-end encryption. This feature keeps communication between two or more WhatsApp users secure. Thanks to this feature, no third party can see your WhatsApp messages, including hackers.
Here is how the feature works. When you send a message to another WhatsApp user, the app encrypts the message before it leaves your device. It’s transmitted as an encrypted message to the receiver’s device. Since the receiver is also using WhatsApp, the app decrypts the message allowing you to read the contents.
Therefore, no third party can intercept your message nor can they decode the message. This security feature is not only available in the classic WhatsApp mobile app. It’s also available in WhatsApp for Business. As such, you can rest easy knowing that your competitors cannot snoop into your business secrets.
Encrypted Video and Audio Calls
How secure are WhatsApp calls? Can someone listen to my WhatsApp calls? Are WhatsApp video calls always encrypted? To answer your questions, I’ll start by saying that WhatsApp video and audio calls are secure.
They use end-to-end encryption just like WhatsApp messages. This means all the video and audio calls flowing to your smartphone are secure. Only you, the sender, and your recipient can listen to or view the calls.
Since the calls are always encrypted, you don’t have to worry about third parties intercepting them. Day or night, rain or shine, only the person you are communicating with can read, listen or view the content you’re transmitting.
Want to know how to verify that your calls are always end-to-end encrypted? It’s simple.
Open a chat within WhatsApp, tap on a contact’s name and then tap the “Encryption” label. The app will present you with a QR code and a 60-digit number. You can ask your recipient to follow the steps above and then compare the 60-digit number.
If the numbers match, then your chats, video, and audio calls are properly end-to-end encrypted. If the recipient is physically close to you, one of you can scan the other’s QR code or visually compare the 60-digit number. Once you scan the code and it’s the same, a green check mark will appear on your screen.
If the recipient is not physically close, you can send the 60-digit number using another platform. The recipient should write down the 60-digit number and then compare it to the 60-digit number that appears on the contact info screen. Alternatively, you can use the Share button from the Verify Security code screen to send the 60-digit number.
Send it via email, SMS, or another messaging platform. By completing these steps, you’ll always ensure that your communication is always reaching the right person and not an imposter.
As you already know, WhatsApp encrypts your messages between your device and that of your receiver. Basically, if you send a message, your device encrypts the message before transmission, and only the receiver’s device can decode it. Even the team at WhatsApp cannot decrypt the messages.
However, once your device decrypts the messages, are they secure? Yes, the messages on your smartphone sent via WhatsApp are secure. This is because WhatsApp also uses encryption to back up your messages and media on your smartphone, whether Android or iOS.
Here is something that you probably don’t know.
WhatsApp offers local backup and cloud-based backup. So, whether your smartphone is saving your messages on the device or uploading them to the cloud, your messages are safe.
If using Android, you can back up your WhatsApp messages to Google Drive, and if you’re using an iOS device, then you can back up to iCloud. Yes, Google and Apple do not offer end-to-end encryption to your WhatsApp messages. However, their servers have security features that help prevent hackers from accessing your data and files.
How to Stay Safe on WhatsApp
Your safety and security matters to WhatsApp. As such, they have taken steps to ensure you and your data are safe and secure when using WhatsApp.
1. Restrict WhatsApp Privacy Settings
Once you download, install and launch your WhatsApp mobile app, one of the first steps to take is to restrict your privacy settings. To do so, tap the three dots on the right corner of the app’s window. Then tap Settings > Account > Privacy.
The app will display a window with the following options:
- Last seen and online
- Profile Photo
- Live Location
When you first launch WhatsApp and check these settings, you’ll find they are all set to “Everyone.” To enhance your safety and security, we recommend that you select “My Contact” or “My Contact except.”
By doing so, you restrict WhatsApp to only allow your contacts to view your Profile Photo, About, Status and Groups. When it comes to Live Locations, I recommend setting it to “Nobody.” Otherwise, your device will share your current location in your chats.
2. Unlock With Fingerprint
When enabled, this feature will require you or any other person to scan their fingerprint to open WhatsApp. You can still answer your WhatsApp calls even when the app is fully locked.
However, you cannot read the chats or view the videos and photos until you scan your fingerprint. To enable “Unlock with fingerprint,” tap the three buttons on the top right corner, then tap Settings > Account > Privacy then scroll to the bottom.
Tap “Unlock with fingerprint,” scan your fingerprint and then select how long WhatsApp should lock. You’ve the following options:
- After 1 minute
- After 30 minutes
To find out if this feature is active, simply place your phone aside for a minute, and it should lock. Then try to launch WhatsApp. If the app requests for your fingerprint scan, then the feature is active. If not, repeat the steps above.
3. Enable Security Notifications
As aforementioned, WhatsApp end-to-end encryption encodes your chats, video, and audio calls. But, WhatsApp allows you to receive notifications if your security code changes for a contact’s phone in an end-to-end encrypted chat.
To enable this feature, tap on the three dots on the top right corner of the screen, then tap Settings > Security and toggle the feature. If you’ve multiple smartphones or tablets, you must enable this setting on all your devices to receive security notifications.
4. Log Out of WhatsApp Web
WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Web to enable its users to send and receive messages right on their PCs and laptops. When you connect your smartphone to WhatsApp Web, you can send and receive messages plus much more.
However, many people fail to log out of WhatsApp Web after sending and reading chats leaving them vulnerable to spying and hacking. Yes, it’s on your laptop and the device is password protected, but this does not mean you’re safe. Hackers can easily access your PC or laptop especially if actively connected to the internet but locked with a password.
Once they do so, they can access your WhatsApp Web app and steal your data. To prevent this, always log out after you’re done using it. To log out of your WhatsApp Web client, on the top bar, you should see three dots next to the plus (+) sign. Click on the three dots, then click “Logout.”
The web client will display a window asking you “Are you sure you want to log out? Click “Logout” to sign off or “Cancel” to return to the web client. That’s it. You are now safely signed off the WhatsApp Web client.
1. Can someone listen to my WhatsApp calls?
The simple answer is no. All WhatsApp chats and calls are usually end-to-end encrypted. As such, no third party can intercept your calls during transmission and listen to your conversation.
2. Are WhatsApp local backups encrypted?
Yes, WhatsApp local backup stored in your device is automatically encrypted by default. WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption based on Signal’s protocol meaning your chats are safe and secure.
3. Can WhatsApp be hacked?
Yes, hackers can hack your WhatsApp mobile app just like other apps. However, the end-to-end encryption feature makes it secure and challenging for them to decode your chats and messages. So, you need to be careful and avoid tapping or clicking malicious links sent by unknown persons.
4. Is it safe to send private pictures on WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is safe to send private pictures to your family members and friends. This is thanks to the end-to-end encryption feature that encrypts chats, video calls, audio calls, and even pictures. Only the receiver can decode your chats, video calls, audio calls, and pictures.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption technology ensures that your chats, videos, and photos are safe. Since the mobile app uses end-to-end encryption based on Signal’s protocol, it’s much safer than other mobile apps. This includes Facebook Messenger and others.
However, it’s not 100% foolproof. To enhance your security, I recommend that you follow these tips:
- Restrict WhatsApp Privacy settings
- Unlock with a fingerprint
- Enable security notifications
- Log out of the WhatsApp Web client
Following the tips above will enhance the security of your favorite messaging app. These steps are easy to follow and take a few minutes to complete. Once you complete these steps, you can rest easy with the full knowledge that no third parties can access your WhatsApp chats.
Also, no unauthorized persons can listen in to your video and audio calls as well as access your location history. If you have any inquiries, feel free to leave a comment on the post or follow me on Instagram or contact me.