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Is WhatsApp Safe? What to Know to Keep Your Data Secure

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in PrivacyNovember 29, 2022

WhatsApp is one of the world's largest private messengers, with over two billion users. It differs from other messenger applications; users can share media, facetime, voice message, call, or text each other; most other messenger options are only helpful for texting. 

WhatsApp is also notable for boasting about many high-bar security aspects. Touting their security aspects shouldn’t be a surprise, as their parent company—Meta—has been lit up with security problems. Being tied to Meta poses many implications for the application; thus, users won’t (and shouldn’t) automatically trust them. Other potential issues may include the “bleeding over” of some information; this wouldn’t be a difficult accusation to make, considering Meta’s history of recording information from data collected by social media

Issues with Meta aside, users should also be wary of cyberattacks. Even though WhatsApp has many security features, technology is consistently advancing, which means cybercriminals could eventually break in. Cybersecurity threats aren't new to e-companies, but they can be terrifying to the public. Cybercriminals halfway around the world might find personal or confidential information and extort money from their victims. For all its internal battles, WhatsApp provides a significant force of security and protection from cyber-attacks; however, its security measures are only a part of the solution for staying safe in modernity's cyber age. 

is whatsapp safe?

WhatsApp Privacy and Security

Those who use WhatsApp are likely to do it for various reasons. For example, WhatsApp has a more consistent media input/output between different operating systems; it is also one of the few messenger applications that give the user significant security control. The user can implement additional layers of protection for their WhatsApp, but at the cost of some convenience. It’s also important to remember that any new security features are not automatically applied to user profiles. To ensure your application is at its safest, turn on all security features and be cautious about sharing information. 

WhatsApp is a leading messenger application, championed because of its rhetoric about privacy and security. Concerning security,WhatsApp has significant resources. Conversations between users are entirely encrypted from sending to receiving devices; this is called end-to-end data encryption. The critical aspect of WhatsApp's end-to-end security is that no third party can access the sent data—including WhatsApp. Data encryption like this works because only the specific device meant to see the message can decode the information. 

At the same time, WhatsApp’s approach to privacy is unique. While many messengers might be tempted to record and later sell information—WhatsApp doesn’t. The content shared over WhatsApp is stored only on your device; when you upgrade your cellphone, the content will be lost unless transferred or recorded separately. There are even ways for the app to reject the saving or downloading of media to a recipient’s device. It’s important to mention that while content is not saved to accounts, WhatsApp servers may save encrypted data after it has been sent.

How to Keep Your WhatsApp Data Secure

Most people know to protect their Social Security Number (SSN): don't give it out to strangers, shady websites, people posing as salesmen, or even your grandmother. Everyone should also safeguard banking information, accounts, passwords, and photos. It's important to only send messages to familiar people; even though the application is safe, strangers could send malicious links. Consider the following to boost your WhatsApp safety dramatically: 

  • Restrict your privacy settings:depending on your client, the exact steps for accessing the privacy tab may differ slightly. Essentially, look for “Settings” then select “Privacy.” Restricting your settings means you are only sharing the bare minimum about yourself; this also comes with a caveat, though some aspects others can’t see, you won’t be able to see either. 
  • Turn on end-to-end encryption for backups:WhatsApp using end-to-end data encryption means the content is safe within the app, and no entity can see it until the receiving device decodes it. You’ll eventually need to back up the content from the app if you want to keep a record of it. Most people utilize Google Drive for this, but there is something to keep in mind; Google Drive has encryption between clients, but to have overall information requires administrator permissions. 
  • Log out of WhatsApp when leaving:if you aren’t around to watch over your phone or computer—log out of WhatsApp. This is a simple way to dramatically boost your protection from physical snooping and cyber threat attempts. If a malicious person accesses the application, personal information may become known, recorded, or sent to other parties. 
  • Enable security:users should always enable the two most significant elements of security: the lock-when-away and the two-step verification. Lock-when-away works the same way as a lock screen on a cellphone. If enabled, the application will not open unless accessed by face, touch, or fingerprint recognition. Further, two-step verification stops most cyber security attempts since a verified cellphone or email must receive the entry code. 
  • Use temporary message options:for those with particularly sensitive content, choose to send media via one of the two options available. View Once is the most secure since the receiving device can only open and see that content once. Note, however, that this does not stop others from videoing or taking pictures of the content while it is open. After this first time, the content disappears. Alternatively, users can use Disappearing Messages, which lets the sending user control how long the message will stay.

Potential Security Risks of WhatsApp

WhatsApp’s popularity comes with significant risks that the average person can mitigate easily. For example, the internet is filled with copies of the application; those who download it are downloading viruses or ransomware. Naturally, the way to mitigate this threat is to double-check credentials before downloading anything from the internet. Moreover, many of the security risks from WhatsApp occur due to its attachments with Meta; since Meta’s procurement of the platform, users have been accosted to join their private WhatsApp data to the Facebook database.

Protect Your Data When Using WhatsApp and Interacting Online

Never send anyone personal information unless you know them or can verify to whom you speak. Implement all forms of security, regardless of their mild inconveniences; lock the app and the device when you step away, and remember to read the fine print. Protect your data when using WhatsApp and interacting online; it's easy, and not falling victim to a cybercriminal is nice too.

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