This is familiar isn't it?
It is no news that each day thousands of WhatsApp accounts have been an increasing target for so-called hackers and illegal money making schemes.
About a month ago, a friend of mine had his account compromised. A day later, he was back online telling me how someone gained access to his account by means of a pure deceit. The person (we'll refer to him as xyz) had chatted my friend about wanting to make an innocent post using his WhatsApp account. Xyz eventually used my friend's number to re-register on WhatsApp and my friend gave him the six-digit verification code. The rest, they say, is history.
"How foolish can one be?" you might say, and perhaps it has happened to you, or friends, or even family members. It's hard enough trying to keep theives from your phones and then this comes by.
Coincedentally, this morning, I had to exit a highly confidential group chat and create a new one just because the admin of the group had his account compromised. Also, the course representative of my department also fell to it (plot twist, he didn't even know it happened till we told him.
With my little knowledge, I figured it's high time I made some findings about how these things happen and how you can prevent them.
I won't refer to them as actual hackers because they do not actually hack WhatsApp to say. They simply gain access to your WhatsApp accounts through their social skills rather than bringing down the gigantic WhatsApp organization (that's silly and almost impossible for such people).
Now, let's get down to business, shall we?
Social engineering is the official name for sugar-coated tongue on the internet. Most internet frauds rely on this technique and it involves gaining trust from the victim involved into divulging sensitive information such as credit card details, covert information supposed to be kept from public eyes, and of course WhatsApp details.
Now let's go into this. Whenever you register your number on WhatsApp, you receive an OTP (one time password) to use to continue registration:
If you don't provide this code, you can't continue the registration. By now, you'll have a picture of how these fraudsters carry out their operations. It works this way: our friend, Hacker Hackaya (he needs to have a name) send his victim a WhatsApp message introducing an investment package that doubles the money invested in it.
He would say that he deals in high value things like Bitcoin, Amazon gift cards and the rest and if the victim invests an amount, it will be used for business and the victim would receive double the amount as profit. Hacker then proceeds to tell the victim to send a code that he(the victim) would receive on his phone, saying that this code will be used for verification purposes. Obviously, this code is an OTP, unknown to the victim, Hackaya has used the victim's number to attempt a WhatsApp registration in order to gain access to the victims contact and defraud friends and families.
It is important that such people should be shunned. Alas this is just one of the ways.
WhatsApp web is a way you can access WhatsApp without using your phone. This involves using your phone to scan a barcode from WhatsApp's website from the WhatsApp application on your phone.
Anyone who has physical access to your phone can do this without you knowing. To see a list of active sessions on WhatsApp web from the application, follow these steps:
- From WhatsApp, click on the three dots at the top corner
- Select "WhatsApp Web"
- If you have active sessions, you'll see a list of browsers and the respective operating systems connected to it
- If any is not yours, you can simply remove it
It's important to know that this method is usually carried out by someone who has access to your phone. Remember not to give your phone to untrusted people to prevent this from happening.
Change of Phone Number
If someone has access to your phone, they can simply change the phone number attached to your WhatsApp account from the "Account section" in WhatsApp settings. The number is gonna be changed to theirs and then they simply re-register on their own phone and you lose your account.
Phone monitoring apps
There are numerous applications out there that simply gives you the ability to monitor phones of other people. This is more prevalent on Android devices since the architecture of iPhones do not give applications such access. These apps have the ability to hide themselves from list of applications and can only be seen from the "Applications" tab in your device settings.
In addition, these apps give others the ability to read your text messages, call logs, browsing history and even take screenshots without you ever knowing.
Of course these apps are usually installed by others when you ain't looking. A fraudster could easily install such an app on your phone through the help of a "friend" and then they would access your OTP without needing your help.
There are many ways anyone could get access to your WhatsApp account but the ones I've highlighted above covers majority of the chances or possibilities. Nevertheless, you need to protect yourself and I'll show you how to do that(isn't that the point of the whole article?).
- Get an application locker: Application lockers such as App lock can prove to be very useful as they give you the ability to protect applications with a password. It is so versatile that it could even prevent some basic features such as minimizing applications except you have a password
- Restrict access to your phone: It important that you only give your phone to people you trust. Simply refuse if you do not feel comfortable with giving out your mobile phone
- Enable 2FA: 2FA or Two Factor Authentication is a method of security applications provide to ensure unauthorized third party does not access a users account even if they are in possession of the user's device. No surprise, WhatsApp also has this feature. To enable it, click on this link and follow the steps there.
Have an harrowing experience with scammers on WhatsApp, let us know in the comment section below
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