The South African Police Service (SAPS) has issued a warning to WhatsApp users to be vigilant of having their apps hacked.

“Having your WhatsApp account hacked is a serious violation of privacy,” SAPS said via a statement. “It means a third party now has unlimited access to your personal chats, information, media and in some instances can also masquerade as you by deleting your chats, replying to your chats, committing crimes and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how harmful being hacked can be to one.”

Hackers can access your WhatsApp data by various means, such as via WhatsApp Web or registering your number on another device. Below are tips to prevent your WhatsApp from being hacked:

-Log out from all computers that you see in the list under WhatsApp Web. This will stop hackers from reading your chats further. This should be done every time you use WhatsApp web

-Do not leave your phone unattended when you are out

-Lock all your apps to deny unknown people to access your apps

-Do not connect your phone to unknown WiFi connections as hackers can also use the unique MAC address to access all WhatsApp chats.

-In case your WhatsApp is already hacked, deactivate your account by emailing at [email protected] Your account will be automatically deleted if not accessed for 30 days

-Enable two-step verification under “WhatsApp account settings”. This will add an extra layer of security over the app

-Lock WhatsApp. It is imperative to have an applock that will help you lock your WhatsApp. While WhatsApp does not offer this application within itself, you can download it and the app facilitates the use of your WhatsApp with a password or PIN

“This will help you prevent anyone who accesses your phone from accessing your WhatsApp account since they will require a password to open it,” SAPS concluded.

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.