In all social networks and messaging services private conversations are held. They are often the virtual space to share opinions, confidential employment information and much more. That is why it is so important to take precautions to take care of both privacy and security. In this note, we will go through the recommended settings to protect both aspects.
WhatsApp has a specific section to take care of privacy. To get to it you have to press on the three vertical points that are in the upper margin of the application, then press Settings/Account/Privacy. Once there, you will see the options mentioned below.
Block access to the app with fingerprint: This option, located at the bottom of the menu, is used to activate the fingerprint lock. This means that every time the app is opened, the system will request that the user place their fingerprint on the sensor to verify their identity. It is a good tool, especially if you know that the mobile can fall into the hands of anyone.
Hide last connection time: By enabling this alternative, the contacts will not be able to see the time of last connection. The person who activated this option will also not be able to see this information. Here you can choose to limit this option to everyone, only contacts, contacts except (…) or nobody.
Limit the display of profile picture: This item, the second in the Privacy menu, allows you to select who will see the profile picture. The options are: everyone, nobody or my contacts except(…). In this third alternative, the user will be able to choose which person or persons in particular they want to hide this information from. Here the suggestion is to avoid the “everyone” option, so that the image is not visible to anyone who has simply got the number.
Choose who can see privacy states: As its name indicates, it allows you to select which people will be able to view what is uploaded to the states. The alternatives are: my contacts/my contacts except(…)/only share with(…). Here the choice will depend on the type of content and purpose of the material being uploaded. If you are trying to reach the widest possible audience, then you should enable “my contacts”. If you are looking to share a private photo or message only for friends or relatives, then you will have to choose between the other two.
Read receipts: here you can enable or disable the famous blue tick Indicates whether the message was read or not. If you want to take maximum care of privacy and take time to answer messages, then it is best to disable this function. Here, as occurs with the time of last connection, if the user deactivates the alternative then he will not be able to see if the recipients of his messages have seen his messages or not.
Temporary messages: This function that arrived in 2020 allows you to configure the messages so that they disappear after a while after being sent. The options are: 24 hours, 7 days or 90 days. It is a tool that adds a layer of security and can be useful to use in private or group chats where sensitive information is known to be shared frequently. It is important to know, however, that no matter how often this tool is used, it is not impossible for the material to leak, since other users could take screenshots of the conversations.
Option for groups: here the user can select who will be able to add him to the group chats that are created. One option is to allow everyone to do it, which is the default alternative; the other alternatives are as follows: my contacts/my contacts (except). It is a function that should be activated if the user prefers to have the option of rejecting the incorporation to certain groups.
Block contacts: in this section you will find all the blocked contacts. Contacts can be blocked from the same chat in which the messages are received or even added by phone number from here. Blocked contacts will no longer be able to send messages.
Send photos and videos that can only be viewed once: this option, unlike all the previous ones, is not within the Privacy section but is activated from each chat. It is a tool that allows you to send photos or videos that after being viewed will be automatically deleted.
How to make use of this tool? Enter the conversation, press the paperclip icon and choose to send media, as usual. After adding the photo or video, you will see that a small virtual button with the number 1 in the center appears next to this content. If that button is pressed, the recipient will only be able to view the content once and then it will automatically be deleted.
The sender will be able to know if the contact opened the material because a message will appear in his chat that will say “open”. In the event that it is sent to a group chat, it will also be possible to know who saw it or received the content by pressing and holding the message.
Two-Step Verification: This is the most important tool to take care of the security of the app since it allows you to add a second instance to corroborate the user’s identity. This option is accessed within Settings/Account. It is the third alternative within this section. There you can set a PIN and an email address that will need to be remembered to log into the account in case the PIN code is forgotten.
Show security notifications on the phone: End-to-end encrypted chats between sender and receiver have their own security code that is used to verify that calls and messages sent to that chat are end-to-end encrypted. This code is found on the contact information screen in QR code format and also as a 60-digit code. The codes are unique for each chat and the participants of each conversation can compare them to confirm that the messages sent there are end-to-end encrypted, as explained on the official website of the messaging service.
Sometimes it can change the security code used in end-to-end encryption, and this usually happens when the user or one of their contacts reinstall WhatsApp or change phones. To receive notifications when security codes are changed, do the following: within Settings go to Account/Security and there activate the option Show security notifications.
Activate end-to-end encryption in backups: WhatsApp has had end-to-end encryption in chats since 2016, but until very recently it did not have this option in backups. In October 2021 added this security tool.
To enable it, go to Settings/Chats/Backup and there activate the option that says End-to-end backup. When doing so, you must follow the steps to create your own or auto-generated key. It is important to know that when this option is activated, if you later change your mobile and want to recover the stored chats, you will have to remember that password.