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3 helpful WhatsApp security tips for protecting your data on the voice and messaging service

Jennifer Still   

3 helpful WhatsApp security tips for protecting your data on the voice and messaging service

Most people who use social media and communication apps understand that a certain level of personal data is shared with the company or companies behind them. But when a WhatsApp notification signaled users would have to opt-in to a privacy policy update by February 8, 2021, it caused panic.

Related Article Module: What is WhatsApp? A guide to navigating the free internet-based communication platform

WhatsApp's last major privacy policy update was back in 2016 and offered users 30 days to opt-out of some metadata and user info sharing between itself and Facebook. But it wasn't until the 2021 update that many users became aware WhatsApp's parent company might have more access to their data than they realized.

In January, Insider reported that WhatsApp confirmed their new policy would "not expand our ability to share data with Facebook." Around a month later, due to confusion among users, the company announced it would slowly rollout the opt-in with a new deadline of May 15. And if users don't opt-in, some aspects of the app, like messaging, will stop working.

WhatsApp security tips for protecting your data

You can't stop what WhatsApp shares with Facebook now, but if you aren't among those who migrated to messaging apps like Signal or Telegram, here are a few additional suggestions beyond privacy setting protections for keeping your WhatsApp data and personal information safe from anyone.

Enable Two-Step Verification

Two-step verification is offered by many apps and is well worth using, especially since it essentially ensures no one else can log into your app or device but you. Activating this feature in WhatsApp is relatively simple and takes only a few seconds.

Here's how to enable two-step verifications in your WhatsApp settings.

How to enable two-step verification on WhatsApp

  1. Open your WhatsApp Settings.
  2. Select Account.
  3. Choose the "Two-step verification menu."
  4. Next, tap "Enable" and create a six-digit passcode. You'll need to enter this periodically and whenever you register WhatsApp on a new device.
  5. Enter an email address should you forget or lose your code.

Disable automatic cloud backups

While some people want to keep records of their conversations, doing so leaves those conversations vulnerable to prying eyes who could gain access to iCloud or Google Drive where they're stored. This is because backed-up conversations lack the encryption of live ones within WhatsApp, so it's important to disable this option.

How to disable automatic cloud backups on WhatsApp for iOS

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Choose "Chats."
  3. Select "Chat Backup."
  4. Next tap "Auto Backup."
  5. Choose "Off."

How to disable automatic cloud backups on WhatsApp for Android

  1. Tap the Menu icon.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Chats.
  4. Tap Chat Backup.
  5. Select Backup to Google Drive.
  6. Choose "Never."

Turn on security notifications

You can have WhatsApp alert you if another device gains access to your private conversations by enabling security notifications. Given that WhatsApp creates a security code whenever a device joins a conversation if that code ever changes, you need to know about it. Here's how to toggle on this option.

How to turn on security notifications on WhatsApp

  1. In your Settings, tap Account.
  2. Select Security.
  3. Tap the "Show security notifications" toggle and turn the lever green.
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