WhatsApp privacy settings on iPhone: Tight level

Learn how to change your privacy settings on WhatsApp using iPhone. These steps adjust your privacy and security settings to Tight level protection.
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How to protect your account against getting hacked

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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 on your behalf. To prevent this, check the list of active devices in the mobile app and terminate the sessions you don’t need:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen;
  2. Go to the Linked devices section;
  3. If the QR code scanner opens, your list of connected devices is empty;
  4. In the list of connected devices, select the device that you are not currently using and tap Log out;

Enable two-step verification

What for: So you definitely don’t get hacked.

Two-step verification helps secure your data when cybercriminals copy your SIM card or attempt to intercept the text message with the confirmation code. 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 can be guessed easily, 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: An added level of 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:

  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.

WhatsApp encrypts your correspondence by default, 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 when you don’t use WhatsApp for a long time.

Encryption keys are extremely difficult to steal. However, on the rare occasions 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 they received it.


How to prevent your personal data from being exposed

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Delete your account before changing your phone number

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

The WhatsApp account is linked to a phone number. When you change the number, the system creates a new account. The account linked to your old number will remain active for 45 more days from the time of the last launch of the app. 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:

  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. Tap Custom… 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.

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 activated your account with the old phone number on a new device, the service will automatically remove all account info tied to this 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 Auto Backup;
  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 memory. They are displayed in the Photo app together with other media files. Since files from your correspondence can be private, 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 Save to Camera Roll 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 Storage and Data section;
  3. Select Storage;
  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 make your info visible only to you or your contacts.

Any person who has your phone number can view your WhatsApp profile info, 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 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: By disabling 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 wish to share your personal information. We recommend limiting the visibility of your status:

  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 them.

You can download a file with correspondence from all 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:

  1. Open Settings by tapping the cogwheel icon in the bottom right corner of the screen;
  2. Go to the Chats section;
  3. Tap Export chat;
  4. Select the chat messages from which you want to save;
  5. Tap Without Media if you want to download only the text of messages, or tap Attach Media if you want to include photos and videos in the archive;
  6. Select the app or service where the archive will be sent. This can be an e-mail client, a 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 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 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.

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How to defeat spammers and trolls

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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 you’ve blacklisted them. 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;
  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 .


How to get rid of unwanted notifications

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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 lose your phone or leave it unattended, 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 a locked screen:

  1. Open the Settings menu on your device;
  2. Go to the Notifications section;
  3. Go to Notification style and select WhatsApp;
  4. Clear the Lock Screen check box.

Disable sound alerts

What for: To get distracted less.

If you correspond often in WhatsApp, sound 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. Tap Wallpaper & sound;
  4. Tap Default (none);
  5. Tapping Mute, you can 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 Sound;
  4. Tap None.

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 Sound;
  4. Tap None.


What would have happened if you had chosen another privacy level?

Privacy level
?

Relaxed

Basic privacy settings, maximum convenience.


Medium

A golden mean respecting privacy matters but preserving convenience.


Tight

A choice of security over convenience; instructions contain a lot of details.

Relaxed
Medium
Tight
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