In this article, I share several ways to tell when your WhatsApp is hacked and how to fix it. We all love our privacy, don’t we? But ever had that feeling that your WhatsApp is hacked? or maybe a fear that someone could be spying on you through your WhatsApp?
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to recognize if there’s an intruder on your WhatsApp account, learn how they could get into your account and what you can do to prevent it, and you’ll also learn what you can do to get back control of your account in case you have been hacked.
First of all, you need to realize that yes, it is very possible for your WhatsApp account to get hacked and for someone to gain unauthorized access to it.
Like any other messaging app, WhatsApp does its best to secure your data, mainly through its built-in end-to-end encryption system.
WhatsApp has implemented a high level of security to an extent that for a hacker to be able to get into your WhatsApp account, they would have to spend a significant amount of time and resources.
Therefore, the highest possibility of your account being hacked is that the intruder had access to your phone or any other device that you use for your WhatsApp.
However, even with WhatsApp’s impressive security features, it is still susceptible to hacking because like it or not, there are always people out there who will go out of their way to find a loophole in the system and exploit it.
So it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is what this article is going to show you how to do. And if you’re here because you suspect you might have been hacked already, keep reading. After all, I’m going to share with you a few tips you can use to gain back control of your account.
Ways hackers might access your WhatsApp account
First, here are a couple of ways unauthorized people might go through to gain access to your account:
- WhatsApp Web
Through its Whatsapp Web feature, WhatsApp gives you the option to sync your contacts and chats to your computer, this way you can access and use your account from both your desktop and your smartphone at the same time, or choose whichever device is most convenient for you at a given time.
However, WhatsApp web also makes it pretty easy for an intruder to gain access to your account from one of your active devices.
The moment someone gets access to your device, especially your phone, they can quickly scan your WhatsApp QR code, and access your WhatsApp conversations in that short time.
Even worse, they’re also able to use WhatsApp web from a different computer than yours after they’ve gained access to your account. So this gives anyone the possibility to access your Whatsapp account from anywhere in the world for as long as they can access your WhatsApp QR code.
- Access to your device backup file
This works even when you have locked your WhatsApp with AppLock. However, note that this hack affects only those devices that do not have the recently updated WhatsApp.
When a hacker gets access to your device, within minutes they will be able to read or even delete your WhatsApp conversations from another device.
After getting your backup file using the file manager, they can send it via Bluetooth to another device.
They can use auto-backup apps like backup text for WhatsApp and directly email all your WhatsApp conversations in plain text by installing this app on your device, and when they are through they uninstall it.
- Through a public Wi-Fi network with a WhatsApp sniffer
Just like it is risky to use your email account on a public wifi network, it is also possible for your WhatsApp to be compromised with the WhatsApp sniffer via a public wifi network.
This is because every device has a unique mac address and if the hacker gets to spoof your mac address, then he will be able to see all your WhatsApp activity.
- Using Third-party Spyware
There are some third-party apps which claim to hack WhatsApp conversations. Apps like Spyzie often require the intruder to install a small piece of software on your device, which enables them to get into your WhatsApp conversations.
Signs that your WhatsApp is hacked
Now that you have an idea of how intruders might gain access to your WhatsApp account, let’s look at the tell-tale signs that your account might have been hacked.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s better to be safe than sorry so here are a few things you should look out for because, in this age of hackers, ignorance is definitely not bliss.
The tips here are for information purposes only but are not necessarily a guarantee of the real problem.
Unusual activity on your account
If you notice any messages you didn’t send or messages you’ve received from people you don’t know, or if you see any contacts that aren’t yours, this might be a sign that there is an interloper on your account.
Check through your account information and profile to note any changes or any other information you do not recognize like unknown groups and chats. And if you find any, then it’s a confirmation and you need to secure your account, fast!
Sudden change in your phone’s temperature
Oftentimes, heavy apps running in the background of your phone cause the phone to warm up, this could be caused by spyware.
If your smartphone temperature suddenly hikes yet you’re not doing any activity or using any apps that would bring this about, then you need to double-check your phone.
Also read: How To Know if Your Twitter is Hacked and How To Fix it
Unexplained Battery Consumption
If your smartphone battery drains so quickly by just leaving it on mobile data or wifi, then there is a possibility of spy software running on your smartphone without your consent.
Un-invoked Whatsapp verification codes
Another notorious way someone can gain access to your WhatsApp account is by obtaining the text verification code. If WhatsApp sends you a text verification code that you didn’t invoke, it’s best to ignore it.
In some cases, you may even receive multiple verification codes back to back.
However, WhatsApp may only send so many verification codes within a given period then afterwards, the app will lock you out if you log out. This is exactly what the hacker wants, to lock you out of your account and they can do whatever they want with it within that time.
So, ignore those verification code messages if you did not ask to verify, and Do Not log out of your account, just continue using your WhatsApp account as you usually would.
What to do when your WhatsApp has been hacked
After reading the above signs, if you think your WhatsApp account is compromised, here are a few steps you can take to secure it.
Unlink other devices
If you’ve been using Whatsapp web, you can check to see which other device is having access to your account.
To do this:
- Open Whatsapp on your phone
- Tap on the 3 vertical dots (፧) on the top right then tap on Linked Devices, a new window will open where you can see a list of all active devices, if you don’t recognize any of them, then chances are someone is hacking into your conversations and WhatsApp activities on your phone.
- Select the device(s) you don’t recognize and Log out. Or just tap on the Log out of all computers option. This will stop the hacker from accessing your activities.
However, this should be a caution for you to always check this option and log out of all devices when you are not using them.
Enable the WhatsApp two-step verification
With the two-step verification enabled on your account, any attempt to verify your phone number on WhatsApp must be accompanied by a six-digit PIN that you created using this feature, so enabling this feature could come in handy in case you suspect a hack, or even as just a precautionary measure.
To enable two-step verification:
Open WhatsApp and tap on the 3 vertical dots (፧), go to Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable.
Enter a 6-digit PIN code, then click Next.
Try to make sure it’s not an obvious pin that anyone can guess, or that could be in use by someone else.
With this option active, you’ll need to enter the PIN code you’ve set to authenticate every time you open your WhatsApp account.
Tip: When this option is enabled, you can enter the email address that will allow WhatsApp to send you a link via email to disable two-step verification in case you ever forget your six-digit PIN.
Notify your contacts that you’ve been hacked
When someone compromises your WhatsApp account, they can easily be able to send messages to your contacts stating that the company sent a verification code and then they may gain access to their accounts too.
To prevent all this, send a message to your friends and family, letting them know that your account has been compromised, this prevents any further exploitation of your account and those of your contacts.
This may also prevent the hackers from using any of your contacts to attain information about you like banking details, email addresses, or any other personal information.
Report the Issue
One of the most important things you need to do when you realize your Whatsapp account has been hacked is to report the issue to the WhatsApp support team for assistance. You can send them an email at [email protected].
The support team might deactivate your WhatsApp account and request you to reactivate it within 30 days, that’s if you don’t want it to be deleted completely.
Delete Your WhatsApp Messenger Account
In extreme hacking cases, you might want to consider deleting your WhatsApp account completely to ensure that the hacker can’t use it.
Note that deleting your WhatsApp account and uninstalling your Whatsapp app are two different things. Uninstalling the app from your phone doesn’t delete your account.
To delete your account:
Go to your app and navigate to Settings > Account, then Delete Account.
Deleting your account will erase all your messages and history, even your Google Drive backup. Also, you will be removed from all WhatsApp groups.
Even though this measure may seem a bit extreme since it’s irreversible, in some situations, it might be your only option to protect your data from the bad guys. Still, you should probably seriously think through it before resorting to it.
Also read: Telegram Hacked? Here is how to know and how to get it back
Preventive measures to keep your WhatsApp from being hacked
Hopefully, you have read through the above and checked your account, and you’re sure your account is safe and has not been hacked (at the moment), but hey you could get hacked another time!
So here are some precautionary steps you can take to secure your account, keep hackers away and prevent any intruders from gaining access to your account in the first place.
Avoid opening unknown messages
Many a time, people unknowingly give interlopers access to their devices by opening infected messages or any other piece of content sent from suspicious sources.
If you ever receive a message from any number you do not recognize or a suspicious link, avoid opening it or following the link.
In the same way, try to avoid installing anything from unknown sources. There should be an option in your phone settings or on your Google Playstore that enables you to block installations from unknown sources, use it.
Avoid using public unsecured networks
Public and unsecured WiFi networks are often unsafe so you should try as much as possible to avoid connecting your devices to them.
Also worth noting is the fact that an intruder can access your device if you’re both on the same local or wifi network connection. That’s why it is highly advisable NOT to log into public and unsecured networks.
Lock your WhatsApp
Use app lockers like AppLock or Smart Applock to keep your WhatsApp (and your other apps) secure. This way, an intruder will need to unlock your apps before doing anything nefarious, and this would most probably turn them away because, well, they don’t have your passcode!
Other app lockers are specifically made for Whatsapp, you can try those out.
And, if you haven’t yet activated the two-step verification feature on your account, consider doing so for additional protection.
Hold on to your phone
Additionally, you could avoid all those unpleasant intrusions into your WhatsApp account by simply keeping your phone with you. Especially in public, do not just leave your phone out there in the open unattended for everyone to check out.
These are just some of the ways you can tell if your WhatsApp account has been hacked, and what you can do about it if it happens.
Remember to act fast if you suspect that your account might be compromised, to avoid any further damage to you and your contacts.
Above all, you need to stay vigilant and keep yourself updated about Whatsapp security features and threats so that you know what to do in case of any problem.