WhatsApp for Android users: Tight privacy set

How to protect your account from getting hacked

Check the list of connected devices

What for: To keep strangers from reading your correspondence.

If you open the Web version of WhatsApp on a public computer and forget to log out of it, strangers will be able to read your correspondence and send messages from your account. To prevent that from happening, check the list of active devices in the mobile app and terminate any sessions you don’t need. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the WhatsApp Web section.
  3. If the QR code scanner opens, your list of connected devices is empty.
  4. In the list of connected devices, select any device that you are not currently using and tap Log out.
  5. You may also log out of all devices except the current one. To do so, tap Log out of all devices at the bottom of the list and confirm your selection.

Enable two-step verification

What for: So you won’t get hacked.

Two-step verification helps secure your data. With this option enabled, WhatsApp can request a six-digit PIN when anyone attempts to confirm your phone number.

To enable PIN-based two-step verification:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Two-step verification.
  5. Tap Enable.
  6. Enter the six-digit PIN that WhatsApp will require when an attempt is made to confirm the phone number. Important! Do not use a simple combination that is easy to guess, such as 123456 or 111111.
  7. Enter the same six-digit PIN again and tap Next.
  8. Enter your e-mail address. If you forget the PIN, a PIN reset link will be sent to this address.
  9. Tap Next.
  10. Enter the same e-mail address again and tap Save.

WhatsApp does not verify the e-mail address that you enter for purposes of resetting the PIN, so be sure to specify an actual e-mail address. If you enter a bogus address, you will lose access to your account for a week after switching to a new device. After the week elapses, you will be able to confirm your number. However, any messages you received during those seven days will be lost.

You can change the PIN or e-mail address or disable this feature at any time. To do so, go to the Two-step verification section and select the relevant menu item.

Downside: WhatsApp will prompt you from time to time to enter your PIN while you use the app.

Enable verification with biometric data

What for: Better protection against unauthorized access.

WhatsApp can be set to request a fingerprint for login confirmation. You can enable this feature if other people have access to your phone and you don’t want them to read your correspondence. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. Select Fingerprint lock.
  6. Tap Unlock with fingerprint and place your finger against the scanner to confirm your fingerprint.
  7. Select when the verification will be required after the screen gets locked:
  8. Instantly,
  9. After 1 minute,
  10. After 30 minutes.
  11. Disable the Show content feature to stop the sender’s name and message text from showing in the notification window.

Enable encryption key change notifications

What for: To be sure you’re communicating with your contacts, not cybercriminals.

By default, WhatsApp encrypts your correspondence, so even if someone intercepts your messages, they will not be able to read them.

The messenger generates unique encryption keys for every chat. These keys change from time to time: for example, if you reinstall the app, change your device or phone number, or don’t use WhatsApp for a long time.

Encryption keys are extremely difficult to steal. However, on the rare occasion a cybercriminal can “spoof” your contact’s identity while interacting with your app and report an encryption key change, they gain the ability to read your subsequent chat messages (but not your older messages).

WhatsApp can notify you about an encryption key change for specific chats. As a result, you can reach your contact through a different channel (e.g., call, send a text message or a message through a different messenger) and make sure that you are still corresponding with the same person.

To enable security notifications:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Select Security.
  5. Enable the Show security notifications option.

From now on, a relevant notification will appear together with the first chat message after the encryption key change. After receiving the notification, send your contact a message that contains no personal information and ask through a different channel whether they received it.

How to keep your personal data from exposure

Delete your account before changing the number

What for: To prevent the next owner of the number from accessing your correspondence.

Your WhatsApp account is linked to your phone number. If you change the number, the system creates a new account. The account linked to your old number then remains active for 45 days from the last launch of the app. But your old number will have a new owner sooner or later, and if they log in to WhatsApp, they will see your profile photo and account details. If you do not want strangers to access this information, use the number change feature. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Change number.
  5. Read the instructions and tap Next.
  6. Enter the old and new phone numbers.
  7. Tap Next.
  8. If necessary, enable the Notify my contacts option and select the contacts to be notified about your number change:
  9. All contacts
  10. Contacts I have chats with
  11. Tap Configure… to manually select the users you need. Bear in mind that contacts in groups that you manage will receive a notification anyway.
  12. Tap Done.
  13. If the system prompts you to enter the two-step verification PIN, enter it.
  14. Tap Remove account and confirm your selection.
  15. Link your new number to the account.

The number change feature lets you import your profile info and settings into the new account. You will also retain access to the chat history but only as long as you use the same device.

Disable backup to Google Drive

What for: To prevent an unencrypted copy from ending up in the hands of cybercriminals.

WhatsApp can create and regularly update a backup copy of your chats in Google Drive. This copy is not encrypted and can end up in the hands of cybercriminals if it gets leaked or the storage gets hacked. This feature is disabled by default. However, we still recommend checking the settings.

To disable chat backup:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Chats.
  4. Tap Chat backup.
  5. Tap Back up to Google Drive.
  6. Select the check mark next to Never.

Downside: a copy of the chats will be stored on the phone only. When you change the device, you will have to transfer them manually.

Stop showing photos and videos in the phone gallery

What for: To prevent files from chats from mixing with other media files on the phone.

By default, photos and videos received in WhatsApp are stored in the phone’s memory. They are displayed in the phone gallery together with other media files. Files from your correspondence can be private, so we recommend disabling this feature.

To stop showing photos and videos from WhatsApp in the gallery:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Chats.
  4. Enable the Media visibility option.

To remove saved media files from the device:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Data and storage usage.
  4. Tap Storage usage.
  5. Select the contact whose correspondence data you want to remove.
  6. Select the type of data to remove and tap Free up space.

Note that you will then have to download files from the chat to be able to view them. You will not be able to see them if your contact removes them on their device.

Limit the visibility of your info

What for: To make your info visible only to you or your contacts.

Any person who has your phone number can view your WhatsApp profile info and message read receipts, as well as your online status and the time of your last visit. If you do not want strangers to view this info, you can hide it or restrict viewing.

To limit the visibility of your personal info:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. In the Last seen, Profile photo, and About sections, select the check mark next to My contacts or Nobody.
  6. Disable the Read receipts option.

Keep in mind that read receipts cannot be disabled in group chats.

Downside: If you disable the display of read receipts, you will also stop seeing read receipts from other users.

Limit the visibility of your status

What for: To stop strangers from seeing information that is not intended for them.

WhatsApp status is a short note that is visible to other WhatsApp account owners for 24 hours after publication. By default, your status is visible to all registered app users. They may include cybercriminals or people with whom you prefer not to share your personal information. We recommend limiting the visibility of your status. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. Tap Status.
  6. Select My contacts except… to prevent specific users from viewing your status. or
  7. Select Only share with… to let only selected users view your status.
  8. Tap the green check mark in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  9. Tap Done.

Create an archive with your profile data

What for: To restore all data if you lose it.

You can download a file with correspondence from all of your WhatsApp chats. This will help you save them in case your phone number or device changes or if your account gets blocked or removed. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Chats.
  4. Tap Chat history.
  5. Open the Export chat section.
  6. Select the chat messages from which you want to save.
  7. Tap Without media if you want to download only the text of messages or tap Include media if you want to include photos and videos in the archive.
  8. Select the app or service where the archive will be sent. This can be an e-mail client, cloud storage, or another messenger.

Keep in mind that this allows you to receive only the archive of correspondence stored on your device. For security considerations WhatsApp does not store delivered messages on its servers after delivery. Undelivered messages are stored on a server for 30 days and then deleted. So, if you have changed your device or removed chat messages, your archive will be incomplete.

You can also receive a file with your account data such as profile photo and chat names.

To download the archive:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Request account info.
  5. Tap Request report.

A report with your data will be generated in the space of several days. You will see the file readiness date in the same section. A link to the report will appear there later.

How to defeat spammers and trolls

Restrict contacts from sending you messages

What for: To keep out spam.

Any WhatsApp user who knows your phone number can send you a message. If you have been targeted by fraudsters or spammers, you can block the unwanted users. You can also block users from whom you do not want to receive messages for any other reason.

Blocked users will not know that they have been blacklisted. They will not be able to call you or view your status updates, and any messages they send will be marked as undelivered. You will not see those messages at all.

To block a user:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. Tap Blocked contacts in the bottom of the list.
  6. Tap the icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select the contact whom you want to block.

After blocking a user, you will not see his or her status updates or the time when the user was last online.

To unblock a user, tap the user’s name or phone number in the list and then tap Unblock <user name>.

How to get rid of unwanted notifications

Configure pop-up notifications

What for: To keep strangers from reading your messages on the locked device.

WhatsApp messages can appear on the screen of your phone even when it is locked. If you forget or lose your phone, strangers will be able to read your messages. We recommend disabling pop-up notifications and keeping only light and sound indication, if necessary.

To manage the notifications:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. In the Messages section, tap Popup notification and select the check mark next to No popup.
  5. In the Groups section, tap Popup notification and select the check mark next to No popup.
  6. Disable the Use high priority notifications option.

Now the message text will not appear on the lock screen, and all WhatsApp notifications will appear in the status bar.

Disable sound alerts

What for: To minimize distractions.

If you correspond often in WhatsApp, the audible alerts about every new message can get annoying. You can disable sound alerts for chats with specific users, group chats, or all messages.

To disable sound alerts for a specific chat:

  1. Select a chat on the Chats tab.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Mute notifications in the drop-down list.
  4. Select the amount of time for which you want to disable notification tones.
  5. If you want to continue receiving notifications without sound, select the Show notifications check mark.

To disable sound alerts for all group chats:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. In the Groups section, tap Notification tone.
  5. Select None.

To disable sound alerts for all messages:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. In the Messages section, tap Notification tone.
  5. Select None.

You can also mute the sound confirming that your message has been sent and received in chats. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. Disable the Chat sounds option.