WhatsApp for iPhone 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom 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 other 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select the Two-step verification item.
  4. Tap Enable.
  5. 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.
  6. Enter the same six-digit PIN again and tap Next.
  7. Enter your e-mail address. If you forget the PIN, a PIN reset link will be sent to this address.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Enter the same e-mail address again and tap Done.

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 receive 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 prompt you for Touch ID or Face ID 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Privacy.
  4. Tap Screen lock.
  5. Select Touch ID or Face ID as the verification method.
  6. Select when the verification will be required after the screen gets locked:
  7. Instantly,
  8. After 1 minute,
  9. After 15 minutes,
  10. After 1 hour.

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, after 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Security.
  4. Enable the Security notifications option.

From now on, a relevant notification will appear 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 he or she 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Change number.
  4. Read the instructions and tap Next.
  5. Enter the old and new phone numbers.
  6. Tap Next.
  7. If necessary, enable the Notify my contacts option and select the contacts to be notified about your number change:
  8. All contacts,
  9. Contacts I have chats with,
  10. Configure… (to manually select the users you need).Bear in mind that contacts in groups that you manage will receive a notification anyway.
  11. Tap Done and confirm your number.
  12. If the system prompts you for a two-step verification PIN, enter it.
  13. Tap Remove account and confirm your selection.
  14. 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 your chat history, but only for as long as you use the same device.

Note that if you have not logged into WhatsApp for more than 45 days and then activate your account with the old phone number on a new device, the service will automatically remove all account info tied to the number.

Disable iCloud backup

What for: An unencrypted copy can end up in the hands of cybercriminals.

WhatsApp can create and regularly update a backup copy of your chats in iCloud. 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 backups of your chats in iCloud:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Chats section.
  3. Select Chat backup.
  4. Tap Automatically.
  5. Select the check mark next to Disabled.

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

Stop showing photos and videos in the Photo app

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

By default, photos and videos you receive in WhatsApp are stored in the phone’s memory. They are displayed in the Photo app 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 Photo app:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Chats section.
  3. Disable the Media visibility option.

To remove saved media files from the device:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Data and storage usage section.
  3. Select Storage usage.
  4. Select the contact whose correspondence data you want to remove.
  5. Tap Manage…
  6. Select the type of data to remove.
  7. Tap Clear and confirm your selection.

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 restrict information visibility to you and your contacts.

Any person who has your phone number can view your WhatsApp profile info, message read receipts, online status, and time of 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Privacy.
  4. Successively tap Last seen, Profile photo, and About and select My contacts or Nobody in each list.
  5. 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, which may include cybercriminals and other people with whom you don’t want to share your personal information. We recommend limiting the visibility of your status. To do so:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Privacy.
  4. Tap Status.
  5. Select My contacts except… to prevent specific users from viewing your status, and tap Done.
  6. Select Only share with… to let only selected users view your status, and 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 the data from your WhatsApp account, to help you keep your information should your account get blocked or deleted.

To download the archive:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Request account info.
  4. Tap Request report.

A report containing the requested data will be generated in the space of several days. You can view 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 wish 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 Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Account section.
  3. Select Privacy.
  4. Tap Blocked contacts.
  5. Tap Add new… and select the contact you wish to block.

After you block a user, you will not see their 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 these messages. We recommend hiding the notification text and disabling notifications on the locked screen.

To stop notifications from showing the message text:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Notifications section.
  3. Disable the Show previews option.

To stop the app from showing notifications on the lock screen:

  1. Open the Settings menu on your device.
  2. Go to the Notifications section.
  3. Tap Notification style and select WhatsApp.

Clear the Screen lock check box.

Disable sound alerts

What for: Less distraction.

If you correspond often in WhatsApp, hearing 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. Tap the chat name at the top of the screen.
  3. Go to the Notifications section.
  4. Tap Notification tone.
  5. Tap Not selected.
  6. Select the amount of time for which you want to disable notification tones.

To disable sound alerts for all group chats:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Notifications section.
  3. In the Group notifications section, tap Tone.
  4. Tap Not selected.

To disable sound alerts for all messages:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Notifications section.
  3. In the Message notifications section, tap Tone.
  4. Tap Not selected.