Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How not to be spied on WhatsApp

Are you afraid that someone will spy on your WhatsApp conversations? Here are some suggestions to be more careful.


WhatsApp is undoubtedly one of the most used messaging applications nowadays, although there are very good alternatives (like Telegram ). Since it is a particularly used service, we decided to create a guide in which we explain in detail how not to be spied on WhatsApp . The advice that we will go to report below can be applied in a very simple and fast, so you will not need to be an expert in computer science. Let's not waste any more time and see how to do it right away.

Check the applications installed on the smartphone
The first thing you need to check for not spying on WhatsApp is the list of applications installed on your smartphone. Malicious software, in fact, could send data related to the activity carried out through the phone (such as accesses made in the messaging app, the amount of data exchanged, and so on). The nice thing is that most of these applications are designed for parental control (parental control), so they are perfectly legal.

The bad guys, however, could exploit these applications to monitor the victim's movements , installing them in a moment of distraction. The most popular apps are Qustodio ( Android/iOS ), Cerberus and Norton Family Parental Control ( Android/iOS ).

To find out if any of these apps to spy WhatsApp is installed on your Android or iOS device, you need to take a look at the settings. In fact, for the parental control to work properly, in fact, it is necessary to enable advanced access permissions . Here's how to check.

Android
If you have a device with the Google mobile operating system , then you just need to check if you have installed parental control applications like this:

  • Open the Settings from the drawer or tap the gear icon on the home screen.
  • Once this is done, go to Security and then Administer the device . Since the menu differs from device to device, the affected section may also be in Other settings - Privacy - Device administration .
  • From the list that appears check if there are any suspicious applications that you have not installed yourself.
  • If you consider it appropriate, you can withdraw the administrative permits checking the box next to the app name.
  • Once the software has been identified, proceed with the uninstallation from the Applications (or App ) menu that you will always find in the Settings . In case you can not remove the software, we advise you to use the Uninstaller application . Alternatively, if you have the root , you can rely on System app remover that allows you to remove system applications (in this case the anomalous ones that have settled more deeply).

IOS
If you own an iDevice , then you need to check the custom profiles .

Here's how to proceed:

  • First open the Settings by tapping the icon on the main screen of the iPhone or iPad.
  • After that, choose General and then Device Management and check for suspicious software to spy on WhatsApp in the list that appears.
  • If there are, we advise you first to uninstall the main application and then plug it once on the item in Device Manager .
  • Then, press on Delete profile , enter the security code (if set) and then click on Delete .

In the event that no suspicious option is activated in the application list, this means that your iDevice is secure .

See if spy apps are installed
In this chapter we explain how not to be spied on WhatsApp paying attention to spy applications. These operate on the device without permission, as long as you have root on Android or jailbreak on iPhone. One of the most popular applications, available on both mobile operating systems, is iKeyMonitor . This is able to monitor the frequency of sending messages, how many screenshots have been captured, record phrases and words typed on the keyboard and much more.

Often the spy apps do not appear directly in the list of applications installed on the device (or another name is used). This allows the less experienced to not discover anything. There are, however, procedures that allow you to discover their presence and disable them through a specific configuration panel. Here's how to proceed.

Android
In case you have a terminal with the Google mobile OS with root permissions , then we suggest you open the SuperUser app (or SuperSU ) and check for any spy applications that have obtained root permissions to be able to work silently. If you find something abnormal, revoke the authorization and proceed with the uninstallation through the Settings .

IOS
If you have an iPhone or an iPad with jailbreak , then I suggest you start the alternative Cydia store and check if any suspicious software is installed. In case they were there, delete them .

Both operating system
On both Android and iOS, you can perform a couple of alternative procedures to check for spy apps .
  • Start the default browser you use on your terminal (eg Chrome , Firefox or Safari ) and type in the localhost address bar : 4444 or localhost: 8888 . These two addresses allow most of the spy apps to be configured through a special panel. From here it is also possible to deactivate the detected spy software. Once this is done, proceed with the uninstallation from the classic Settings menu dedicated to applications.
  • If the procedure you saw earlier did not bring any results, then try to open the dialer of your device (to be clear the Phone app) and enter the code * 12345 . Through the latter it is possible, in fact, to access the configuration panel of some spy apps.

Verify the accesses of WhatsApp Web
Many of you will surely know that WhatsApp provides an online service called WhatsApp Web and a program to be installed on a PC that allows you to use the popular messaging app on your computer.

It works simply by making an association between the smartphone and the PC by scanning a QR code. Some attackers could exploit this software because it has a feature that allows you to save the session even after closing the browser or the program.

In particular, the instant messaging service makes available the Stay connected option which allows you to keep a session active on your computer after having made the association between the victim's WhatsApp app and your PC. For the spione it is a very simple operation because you just need to connect to the WhatsApp Web page or open the appropriate software and read the messages only after they have been read by the victim, so as to hide his presence well and not be discovered.

Recently, however, the developers of the messaging platform have implemented a feature that allows you to receive a notification on the device where the primary application is present every time you associate your account with WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp for PC . However, this is a partial remedy because the alert could escape or not appear if the notification settings are turned off.

Fortunately, there is a procedure that allows you to control the associations made. Here's how:

  • Open WhatsApp on your Android or iOS device and click on the 3 dots on the top right (Android) or on Settings (iOS) and select WhatsApp Web on Android or WhatsApp Web/Desktop on iOS.
  • The screen that appears shows the list of computers connected to your account and information about the operating system used and the time / date of the last activity.
  • If you notice something unusual, then you just have to press the computer you want to delete and then disconnect or disconnect from all devices if you want to be more relaxed.

Enable two-factor authentication
How not to be spied on by WhatsApp ? To this question we answer with another definitely efficient method: enable verification in two steps . This feature allows you to set a secret PIN to be entered when activating the account on a new device. The feature can be activated very easily if you carefully follow the steps below:

  • Open WhatsApp on your smartphone or tablet and press the 3 dots on the top right and then on Settings on Android or on Settings if you have an iPhone.
  • At this point, click on Account and then Verify in two steps and enable the feature by pressing Activate.
  • Then enter a 6-digit PIN that you will be asked for when registering the phone number on WhatsApp .
  • Confirm the same PIN on the next screen and add an e-mail address to the account that will allow you to reset the PIN if you forget it and to further protect your profile.
  • Validate the previously entered e-mail address and first press Save and then Finish to complete the 2-step verification setup .

We recommend that you save your PIN in a safe place (perhaps one of the best password managers available) because without this you will not be able to activate WhatsApp after uninstalling it or installing it on a different terminal.

Hide notifications on the lock screen
The most curious could read the messages received on the messaging app directly from the lock screen (or lock screen) without necessarily taking the device in hand. Worse, it could happen that the attacker associates your mobile number with the WhatsApp app installed on your smartphone by entering the code received via SMS and clearly visible on the lock screen without unlocking the phone or taking it in your hands. You can work around this problem by simply turning off the notification view by following the steps below.

Android
Unfortunately, the various user interfaces installed by the OEMs on their smartphones allow you to disable the display of notifications in a different way. In general, however, you can find the appropriate option in Audio and Notifications , Notifications , Notifications & Status Bar or Lock and Security Screen . If your smartphone supports it, we advise you to use the search bar in the Settings by entering the notification term .

IPhone
In case you are in possession of an iPhone, follow these steps to hide notifications:

  • Open the Settings by pressing on the icon on the smartphone's home screen and choose Notifications .
  • Then, press on WhatsApp and move the switch located next to Show on the lock screen to OFF .
  • We also recommend that you tap on Show Previews , present on the same screen, and choose the When unlocked option .

Use a secure unlocking method
In case you are wondering if there are other methods of not being spied on WhatsApp , then we suggest you to set an unlock method on your device. In other words, always set a PIN, password or pattern from the dedicated settings . If you are looking for even more secure protection, then you can rely on fingerprint , iris scanning or face recognition .

In particular, on the latest generation of iPhone you can use the Touch ID fingerprint sensor while on the iPhone X 3D facial recognition (better known as Face ID ). On Android devices, however, you can take advantage of different options.

For example, the latest Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 + can be unlocked using the fingerprint reader on the back, face recognition or iris scanning. The same applies to notebooks equipped with a webcam compatible with Windows Hello or a biometric scanner to access the operating system and then open WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp for PC .

Scan for any viruses and/or malware
If you use an Android device or a Windows PC, we recommend that you install a good antivirus / antimalware and activate real-time protection or perform periodic manual scans looking for threats. As for Windows , you can use the integrated Windows Defender antivirus or alternatively Kaspersky , Avast or BitDefender . On Android, however, try Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus 2018 , Bitdefender Antivirus Free or Malwarebytes .

Set a secure password for Google Drive and iCloud
Many of you will surely know that WhatsApp backs up your conversations by archiving them on Google Drive (Android) or iCloud (iOS) by default. In this way, the attacker, who discovers the key to access the two cloud services, can enter the account without any problem and see photos and videos received and sent. For this reason, we advise you to set a particularly complex pass to be discovered in order to remain calm.

If you have an Android terminal , then use Google Drive as an online storage service, you can change your password like this:

  • Open your default browser (Chrome or Safari) and go to www.google.it .
  • After that, click on the profile icon in the upper right and then choose Google Account .
  • In the new page that appears, press on Access and security , scroll lightly with the mouse and click on Password in the Access method and password section .
  • Then, enter the new password in the New password and Confirm new password fields and then click Change password to confirm the operation.

In case you use an iPhone , and then iCloud , then do this:
  • Always open your default browser and head on the website of iCloud .
  • From here, fill in the Apple ID and Password fields by entering the login credentials and then pressing the arrow on the right.
  • Now that you have correctly logged in to your Apple account , click on Change in Security and then Change password .
  • In the box that appears, enter the current password and the new password in the New password and Confirm password fields .
  • To validate the change, click on Change password .

Uninstall root and jailbreak
Although root and jailbreak make it possible to modify the two operating systems of Google and Apple in greater depth, the special applications installed, which use these two systems, could have different purposes than those for which they were designed. For example, the spy applications seen recently, to steal information from WhatsApp , require root permissions or jailbreak .

In the case of an Android device , you can proceed to uninstall SuperUser/ uperSU (the application that deals with managing root permissions on the green robot) through the appropriate option in the Settings .

If you have an iPhone with jailbreak , the removal of the latter requires a procedure a bit 'more complex, so we suggest you googling.

How not to be spied on WhatsApp: other useful tips to follow
  • Do not lend the smartphone to people you do not know (the same applies to the PC).
  • Deactivate the reading confirmation from the WhatsApp Settings.
  • Hide the online status (last access) and the state.
[Source]
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