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6 ways to stay safe while using messaging apps

Instant messaging and social media apps have given most of us a lifeline during the pandemic, enabling us to stay in touch with friends and family. Yet there is no shortage of spammers, scammers, hackers and other criminals looking to exploit our reliance on these apps to gain personal info for their own ends.

Alcatel rounds up some practical tips about improving your privacy and security while using your favourite messaging apps.

  1. Lock your phone screen  

To prevent other people from accessing messaging apps and other data on your Android phone, set up a screen lock on your device. You will need to use a PIN, pattern, password or your fingerprint to unlock your device when you turn it on or wake it up.

  1. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) when possible  
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Most social media and messaging apps support 2FA, an optional feature that adds more security to your account. With 2FA, you will need to provide a PIN code (in addition to your login and password) when you sign into the app. The code can generally be emailed, sent via SMS, or generated on an authenticator app like Google Authenticator.  

  1. Check the app’s privacy settings

It is a bit of a chore, but most social and messaging apps allow you to customise a wide range of privacy settings. This gives you more control over which information you share and with whom. For example, on WhatsApp, you can set your profile photo, last seen, and about, to be seen by everyone, contacts only, or no one.

  1. Use a strong password  

Using a strong password can help ensure that attackers cannot easily gain access to your social and messaging apps. Ideally, you should have different passwords for each app, so that a hacker can’t gain access to all of your accounts with one password. A long password (16 characters-plus) with a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and non-alphanumeric characters (like &, @, etc.) will be hard for anyone to guess.

  1. Be wary of strangers and suspicious links  

Be careful about messages and friend requests from people you don’t know in real life. Ignore any messages that ask for your login details or other personal information, and never click on links from people you don’t know since it could be spam or worse.

  1. Keep Android and your apps up to date with the latest software versions  

Keeping your operating system and apps up to date with the latest security updates will help to keep the bad guys away.

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