We all use WhatsApp day in and day out. And, we have been using it for years now. But, have you ever wondered if there are any risks that you are putting yourself into by using WhatsApp? Yes, there are certain things that you must know in order to keep yourself safe from threats on the popular instant messaging app. “Is WhatsApp Safe?” this has been a trending question that our readers have asked repeatedly especially after Facebook acquired WhatsApp and the Facebook security breach happened in 2019.
So, in this post, we will try to find the best possible answer to the question “Is WhatsApp Safe?” And, we will also take a look at the precautions and safety measures that we shall take to protect ourselves on this very useful messaging app.
What is WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is an instant messaging and social networking app that is owned by Facebook Inc. now. It is available to use on Android and iOS mobile devices. And, it even has a web version that you can access on your desktop. You can chat with anyone on WhatsApp, make voice calls, video calls, and also update stories. It has over 2 billion active users around the world and is completely free to use everywhere.
You only need to sign up for a WhatsApp account with your mobile number and then you can use all the features like messaging, calling, etc. It is safe to say now that WhatsApp has become an integral part of our daily routines now. We wake up in the morning and check it, and then sleep after checking it in the night.
Why is WhatsApp so popular?
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps. The main reason behind it is that it is a freeware, so anyone can access it without any problem. It is available in over 109 countries and in around 65 languages. The term ‘WhatsApp’ has become synonymous to “instant messaging.” People now are saying “WhatsApp me this and that” instead of saying “Message me this and that.” The simple user interface, free messaging and calling service, and vast availability has been the core reasons behind its popularity.
However, with so many users accessing the platform daily and sharing their private details, it has become a hot-drop for the attackers, scammers, and spammers. These people are the main threats to your safety and security on WhatsApp. But, WhatsApp is regularly updating itself to keep such threats away and maintain a safer environment on the app.
Is WhatsApp Safe to Use?
Now let’s find it out if WhatsApp is safe to use. WhatsApp is one of the most heavily used apps by its users. To cope up with it, WhatsApp regularly maintains the servers and services. WhatsApp follows various safety and security protocols like end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and many others to build and maintain a safer environment for you. However, there are still some loopholes and vulnerabilities left sometimes that the attackers benefit from and steal the data.
Let’s take a look at every aspect of WhatsApp and find out how safe it is actually to use currently.
Key Tip: Keep updating the app to stay protected as the updates come with security patches and bug fixes.
Is WhatsApp Safe for Messaging & Calling?
The main purpose of using WhatsApp is messaging and calling with our contacts. Over 80 billion messages are sent daily through WhatsApp and all of them are strongly protected. To keep your WhatsApp messages and calls safe, WhatsApp automatically protects them by end-to-end encryption. This means that only you and the receiver of the can read the message or listen to the call. Even WhatsApp can’t read or listen to them.
When you send a message via WhatsApp, it is converted to a special code by the algorithm and it is only decoded when it reaches the target account. The same thing happens when you receive a message. The WhatsApp voice and video calls are also protected in a similar manner.
Is WhatsApp Safe for your Privacy?
When you sign up for a WhatsApp account, you share your mobile number with them and it is saved on their database permanently. Your mobile number, name, and profile picture is your identity on WhatsApp. You can choose who can access your profile picture, but not your name and contact number. The Privacy Settings on WhatsApp are pretty good and you can easily alter them to protect your privacy.
However, the Status or Stories you upload on WhatsApp are the most vulnerable. Anyone having your contact number can view them. You can still maintain their privacy also but having so many contacts in the list, it is tough to be picky with it.
What are the Vulnerabilities on WhatsApp?
There are certain vulnerabilities on WhatsApp that have been the major concern of the users worldwide. Let’s take a look at some of the main vulnerabilities that WhatsApp needs to fix as soon as possible.
- Fake and Fraud News: WhatsApp groups and sometimes personal messages are always full of forwarded messages that don’t go through any verification. Users just receive them and forward them by blindly believing. Fake and fraud news spreads through WhatsApp in this manner and can lead to severe consequences. In countries like India, the rapid spread of fake news has been the biggest concern of WhatsApp and the users as well. Go through this WhatsApp Thread to know about the tips to help prevent such fake news spreads.
- Infected Files and Links: WhatsApp users unknowingly forward infected files and links sometimes that are created by the attackers to attack the devices and data. Sometimes, even malware and phishing links roam around the app, and WhatsApp isn’t able to block them automatically.
- Google-Drive Backups: The messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted but the backups you make to Google Drive are not. So, attackers can access your backups from Drive and access any of the messages they want.
- Zero-Day Exploit: It is a vulnerability in the app that was previously unknown to everyone, including users and the company but then the hackers find and exploit it to steal the data. The zero-day risks are inevitable and can happen anytime with any app.
These are some of the risks that you put yourself through by using WhatsApp. It is essential that either the Government or WhatsApp do something to fix or prevent these soon.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps worldwide. It regularly tries to update and maintain the safety, privacy, and security of all the users. However, there are certain vulnerabilities that still need to be worked upon. So, until WhatsApp or the government comes up with the solution, it is essential that you protect yourself from the risks.
You should activate the two-factor authentication on WhatsApp to protect your account and always choose the most secure privacy settings for you. Always verify the news you receive on WhatsApp before forwarding it and never fall for phishing links and infected files.
The best thing is to stay away from unknown people and groups on WhatsApp whom you feel something fishy about. That’s all for this post. I hope you find it helpful. Keep using WhatsApp, there is nothing much to worry about but always be aware of your actions. This applies to any social networking app you use.