WhatsApp is by far the most popular instant messaging platform in the world and it has an army of over a billion registered users. However, it isn’t impervious to attacks and breaches that pose a security or privacy risk to its users. The recent Pegasus spyware attack from Israel’s NSO exploited flaws in WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption and put countless Indians at risk with targets including but not limited to smartphones of politicians, human rights activists, journalists and more.
As of now, nothing can beat the security of instant messaging services like Telegram or Signal, however, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in the world and its user base strength is what attracts several additional users to it. With that being said, here are a few ways in which you can ensure that your chats can be a bit more secure.
Activate Fingerprint/ Face Unlock for WhatsApp:
Face unlock or fingerprint unlock has been a staple on iOS devices for quite some time and now, WhatsApp has launched this feature for Android devices as well. This in-built screen lock can be accessed through a user’s privacy settings and this works by enabling an additional biometric authentication every time you use the app. This feature provides the reassurance you need to know that there is an extra layer of security which helps in keeping away prying eyes from your personal conversations.
Selecting who can add you to WhatsApp groups
This is a feature that should have been there from the beginning as some groups can be seriously pesky and annoying. After long last, WhatsApp now provides users with the option of choosing who can add you to groups. WhatsApp for good measure doesn’t send a notification to your contacts if you have stopped them from adding you to groups. There is also a new invite system wherein a group admin will be required to send you an invite through a personal chat to invite you to a group. This invite lasts for three days and in this period you can choose to accept the invitation or not. If the invitation isn’t accepted, the invite will expire.
Choose who can see your profile picture or status update
WhatsApp has added the ability to allow a user to distinguish between who is allowed to see their picture or status updates and not. This feature can be changed in the privacy settings and one thing to keep in mind is that you should make this change before updating your status otherwise whatever settings you change won’t be applicable.
Turn off read receipts
Those ‘Blue Ticks’ can be turned off if you don’t want anyone to know that you have read their text. However, a point to keep in mind is that when this is turned off, you won’t be able to view other’s read receipts as well. Also, in groups, this feature doesn’t work; so, that’s another point to keep in mind.
This is the last option, but a useful one nonetheless. WhatsApp also has the option to block contacts and those who are blocked will not be able to message you, see your profile picture, status and more. If you want to block someone, the option is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is access the person’s chat, then open their account information, scroll all the way down to the bottom and choose block contact.