Cybersecurity specialist Zak Doffman shared his tips for users to better protect their data on WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.
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January 24, 2021 6 min read
After WhatsApp announced the update of its policies to share data with Facebook , millions of users migrated to other messaging apps . The two favorites have been Telegram and Signal , apparently for offering greater privacy. However, none of the three is completely reliable, unless you change certain security settings to better protect your information .
Cybersecurity expert Zak Doffman claims that Telegram and Signal promise more privacy than traditional platforms. However, like WhatsApp , they have important settings that are not predetermined and that must be modified from now on.
Now that these platforms are gaining popularity, the specialist shared his recommendations to configure the devices so that our data is less accessible.
In this app, messages are encrypted end-to-end and only users have access to the content. However, Doffman says that “the problem is the metadata : who, when and where in relation to your messages , as well as your contacts and information about your device . “
“WhatApp can still be used […] However, it is necessary to change this fundamental configuration to stay safe,” said the specialist at Forbes .
- Avoid malicious content you receive , such as unknown links and attachments.
- Disables the option to automatically save received images in the phone gallery.
- Obtain the PIN number that ‘two-step verification’ offers to prevent hackers from hijacking your account with deception.
- Turn off backups. While the messages are protected as they are sent, “if you use the WhatsApp option to back up your chat history to the Apple or Google cloud, those copies are not protected by that end-to-end encryption. extreme, “ warned the cybersecurity expert.
We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption. pic.twitter.com/6qDnzQ98MP
– WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
“We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear, we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption,” WhatsApp noted on its official Twitter account a few days ago.
As in WhatsApp and Signal , when you access Telegram for the first time on a device, you must enter a phone number. Then they ask you to write the confirmation message sent by SMS. The problem is that if someone steals that code “they can hijack your account and access your content,” Doffman pointed out in another article for Forbes .
To be safe on Telegram , the analyst recommends the following changes:
- Activate ‘two-step verification’ (2FA). Go to the settings, enter the ‘privacy and security’ section, add a password and that’s it!
- Change your privacy settings. In the ‘privacy’ section choose that only your contacts can communicate with you, and no one else. You can also limit who sees your profile, if your status (online) and last connection is shown, or who can add you to groups.
- Use a ‘ lock code’. If other people besides you have access to your device, it is important to protect your chats.
- Periodically review the active sessions in your account. This way you can make sure that no one has entered from another device.
- Secret chats and end-to-end encryption. Telegram offers ‘secret chats’, which offer encryption from one device to another, but it doesn’t work for groups. To start a secret chat go to the normal chat with your contact, click on the three dots on Android or ‘more’ on iOS, and choose ‘start secret chat’.
- Activate self-destruction. Another attraction of this app is that it has the option of destroying messages shortly after being viewed.
It has more or less the same advantages and limitations as Telegram, with the difference that Elon Musk himself recommended using Signal. Of course, this application is not risk-free either and it is also advisable to modify some settings:
- Activate the ‘ registry lock’. This will prevent someone else from having access to your conversation history in case your account is stolen or hijacked.
- Set the ‘screen lock’ using biometric security or a passcode.
- Turn off previews. This way the messages will not appear on the main screen of the device.
- Disable screenshots outside of the app.
- Make it your default SMS messaging app. Doffman shared this trick for Android users, since by doing so the messaging will be more secure and encrypted, unlike the conventional one.
Doffman explained that WhatsApp collects much more data than Telegram or iMessage , but they are few compared to other apps , such as Facebook, Messenger, Google, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok . “So unless you avoid those others, WhatsApp is not your biggest problem,” he added.
The expert warns that “there is a much bigger problem” , referring to Facebook’s plans to integrate WhatsApp with Messenger and Instagram . “The idea is to create a great interoperable messaging giant that brings together all its audiences,” he explained in the same publication. It added that that would be “much more serious” for user privacy than the recent update.