How to stop hackers reading your WhatsApp texts – three steps to take right now

WHATSAPP is one of the world’s safest messaging apps – but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to hackers.

Cyber crooks regularly find ways to break into people’s accounts, often using social engineering techniques such as phishing scams.

WhatsApp hackers regularly break into people's accounts

WhatsApp hackers regularly break into people’s accountsCredit: Alamy

These attacks may come in the form of WhatsApp messages sent by attackers posing as one of your closest friends.

The “friend” asks you to share a six-digit code that you’re about to receive via SMS. Once you share the code, you’re locked out of your account.

That’s because the number was in fact an account verification code used to connect your WhatsApp account to a new phone number.

It’s effectively a way to trick you into handing over the keys to your account, and it’s easy to fall victim to.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can lock down your account and keep it safe from prying eyes.

They largely involve making it trickier for hackers to login to your account by adding additional layers of security.

1. Never hand out your six-digit code

It almost goes without saying that you should never show anyone the six-digit code used to verify your WhatsApp account.

It’s sent over SMS and is meant for your eyes only. Don’t send it to friends, family, siblings and definitely don’t share it with strangers.

WhatsApp sends the code to you whenever you try to log in on a new device using your phone number.

Hackers can trick you into handing it over in order to break into your account.

2. Enable two-step verification

You might associate a PIN, or Personal Identification Number, more closely with your credit or debit card.

However, you can also set a PIN for a number of online accounts – including your WhatsApp profile.

WhatsApp uses your six-digit PIN to verify that it’s you trying to log in to your account.

To set one up, open WhatsApp, go to Settings and tap “Two-Step Verification”. Tap “Enable” and enter a PIN of your choice.

WhatsApp will occasionally ask for this PIN when you use the app to double check it is you.

This prevents hackers from reading your texts if they know the password to your account, but not your PIN.

Then PIN will also be required to add contacts.

If you wish, you can add an email address from which you can recover the account if you happen to forget your PIN.

3. Tweak your privacy settings

WhatsApp has a number of privacy settings that, if activated, make it harder for hackers to know who you are.

This, in turn, can make it more difficult to employ the social engineering techniques frequently used to break into people’s accounts.

One setting that’s worth changing is who you share your profile photo, status, and other details with.

You can block people who aren’t in your contact books from seeing these details – including your phone number.

Go to settings > account > privacy > and select “my contacts” for whatever you want to hide.

Hackers could trick you into thinking you're talking to a friend

Hackers could trick you into thinking you’re talking to a friendCredit: Alamy

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