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WhatsApp’s top privacy, security features its 2 billion users must know

There’s more to WhatsApp than just end-to-end encryption. Here’s how WhatsApp users can keep their accounts secure and private.

How secure is your WhatsApp account? How secure is your WhatsApp account?
How secure is your WhatsApp account? (REUTERS)

WhatsApp is now home to over 2 billion users around the world. Facebook-owned instant messaging app now covers about 25% of the world's population. WhatsApp's growth can be credited for the easy-to-use interface, a host of features for individual and group users, and no advertisements (for now).

WhatsApp's popularity around the world also makes it a hot target for cybercriminals around the world. While the end-to-end encryption gives some sense of security, attackers are hard at work to bypass the protection firewalls.

"Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals. Messages are only kept on your phone, and no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you," said the company earlier this week.

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For WhatsApp's 2 billion users, it's pertinent to know the security features that the instant messaging application offers. Let's take a look.

Two-step verification

You will probably have already enabled two-step verification for Facebook, Gmail, and other important accounts. You can also do the same for your WhatsApp account. The two-step verification brings an additional layer of security to your account. This will require you entering a six-digit PIN when you're resetting and verifying your WhatsApp account. The feature comes in handy if your phone has been stolen or lost. You can enable the feature by going to Settings > Account > two-step verification.

Secure your profile

WhatsApp also gives you the flexibility to control who can see your key profile information. Make sure, you have adjusted the profile information to be shared with "everyone", "your contacts", or "nobody." Apart from this, you can also turn off last seen. Change settings for profile picture, about, and status stories based on your preferences.

 

Group users

Groups are one of the biggest elements of WhatsApp. For some, it can be a little pesky as well. WhatsApp now allows users to block others to add you to their groups. This gives you flexibility over what group you want to be part of. To enable this important WhatsApp feature, open Settings > Account > Privacy > Groups and select one of three options: "Everyone," "My Contacts," or "My Contacts Except".

Enable Touch ID/Face ID

WhatsApp now lets you unlock the application on your phone through a fingerprint sensor. On the latest iPhones, you can enable Face ID (facial recognition) to do the same. The Touch ID/fingerprint sensor unlock feature is available for Android smartphone users. The feature is quite useful as it does away with the need for third-party applications that brought in similar secondary lock/unlock through PIN or swipe gestures.

WhatsApp users should make sure the application is up to date. Usually, WhatsApp's updates bring bug fixes, security fixes along with improvements to the existing features.

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