With over 700 million monthly active members, WhatsApp users send a total of 30 billion messages per month implying that enormous volume of personal information is being communicated.
Even though WhatsApp encrypts all its messages and data, ESET Kenya software security expert Bruce Donovan experts say it pays to be secure with your chats using these five tips:
Hide ‘last seen’ timestamp
While it is great to note when your friends were ‘last seen’, a scammer who already knows some other things about you, adding that last piece of contextual information could prove useful to them – whether you’re awake or not; at home or overseas. You can disable or restrict who sees your ‘last seen’ time in WhatsApp’s ‘Profile’; ‘Privacy’ menu, in Android, iOS, Windows or Blackberry. Be aware though, if you turn it off, you won’t be able to see other users’ ‘last seen’ times either.
Block WhatsApp photos from appearing in photoroll
With some WhatsApp conversations being of ‘personal’ nature, the last thing you want is the images you shared with your significant other pooping up when let a friend go through your holiday pictures. To prevent this on Android phones, use a file explorer app like ES File Explorer, find WhatsApp’s ‘Images’ and ‘Videos’ folders. Create a file within each called ‘.nomedia’. That will stop Android’s Gallery from scanning the folder. IPhone users have an easier way that includes: Go into your phone’s Settings menu, then ‘Privacy’, ‘Photos’, and deselect WhatsApp from the list of apps whose images are fed into the photo stream. We have all heard of stories of people loosing phones and their pictures surfacing somewhere else.
Watch out for scams
WhatsApp itself will never contact you through the app. Also, WhatsApp does not send emails about chats, voice messages, payment, changes, photos, or videos, unless you email their help and support to begin with. Anything offering a free subscription, claiming to be from WhatsApp or encouraging you to follow links in order to safeguard your account is definitely a scam and not to be trusted.
Deactivate WhatsApp if you lose your phone
Once your phone is lost or stolen, immediately activate WhatsApp using the same phone number on a different phone with a replacement SIM. This is because the app can only be used by one number on one device at a time, so by doing so you instantly block it from being used on your old phone. If this is not possible, ask WhatsApp to deactivate your account.
Be careful what you talk about
Let common sense guide all your digital communication. Do not send any personal information over WhatsApp such as bank or credit card details and other identification details.