Instant messaging app Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov was all over cybersecurity news for days when he alleged last month that WhatsApp had been a surveillance tool for 13 years and that people should stay away from the messaging app.
His allegation came days after WhatsApp disclosed a security issue on the platform. According to him, all it takes is sending a malicious code-laden video or starting a video call for a hacker to get access to all the data on a smartphone.
It turns out that there is more than one way to hack a WhatsApp account. From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to anti-establishment journalists in South Asia, victims of WhatsApp hacking can be found across the world. Here is how we can detect whether our WhatsApp accounts are hacked and what we can do to counter the threat.
How to Check WhatsApp Hack: Indicators
- Your friends alert you about spam or phishing links coming from your WhatsApp account.
Hackers who get access to other people’s WhatsApp accounts frequently bombard those users’ contact lists with spam. Tip: Check the chat for any unknown messages sent or received.
- Strangers suddenly pop up in your phone contact list.
If you receive any messages from an unfamiliar contact, someone else may be accessing your WhatsApp account. Hackers will occasionally add new contacts using your WhatsApp account.
Tip: Check your contact list for strangers.
- Changes to your contact information.
You discover that your account information has changed when reviewing your profile. For instance, the hacker could alter your display picture, name, or status.
Tip: Go to Settings, select your Profile at the top of the menu, and review the information and verify that it is accurate and up-to-date.
WhatsApp Hack: Counter Measures
Having used these steps, you have now checked your WhatsApp account. Your investigation would result in only two options. The first is that your WhatsApp account has been hacked, in which case you should try to reset your password as soon as you learn about it. The second scenario, though, is that no one will be able to access your account.
Either way, you may add further protection to your WhatsApp account by turning on Two-Factor Authentication to keep others from accessing it. The methods to enable this extra security are listed below.
- Open WhatsApp and go to Settings.
- Select Account.
- Choose Two-step Verification and tap on Enabled.
- Type a 6-Digit PIN code. Then, tap Next.
You will be required to enter the 6-Digit PIN code each time you use WhatsApp after completing the Two-Factor Authentication setup. You will feel more secure and at peace knowing that only you can access your account.
Along with these, practice the following security measures:
- Never install apps from unknown sources. Be extra careful if the apps are free.
- Do not scan any QR code given to you unless it’s from a trusted source.
- Do not give your phone to people if you can’t see what they are doing.