WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 6
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

WhatsApp is one of the best messaging services you can use. It’s been around for more than 10 years, and people all around the world use it every day. Unfortunately, WhatsApp’s popularity makes it a prime target for attackers. If you’ve fallen victim to a WhatsApp hack or know someone who has, here’s how to protect your information.

What is the WhatsApp hack?

Bad actors have been stealing WhatsApp accounts through what’s called social hacking. This is when attackers use already hijacked Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, etc. accounts to contact victims, posing as their friends or family.

An attacker pretends they are having difficulty getting into their WhatsApp accounts and trick the victim into handing over their WhatsApp security verification code by claiming it belongs to the attacker. This social hack gives the bad actor full access to the victim’s WhatsApp account, which they can then use to manipulate the victim’s other friends and family into giving them money, sharing their bank account numbers, etc.

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Although this WhatsApp hack has been used before, it’s particularly harmful right now since attackers have been using the coronavirus pandemic as leverage when conning victims’ friends and family. The Telegraph reports that hackers are still using it across the UK, but there is no reason why they couldn’t use it elsewhere.

How to protect yourself

WhatsApp use in hand
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

WhatsApp has yet to find a way to truly fix the issue. For now, the company tells its users not to share security verification codes with anybody, including loved ones.

We recommend implementing two-step verification within your WhatsApp account for further protection. Setting this up is easy. Just navigate to Settings > Account > Two-step verification. This will prompt you to create a six-digit pin to use whenever you add WhatsApp to a new device. You’ll also add your email address just in case you forget your PIN.

Read also: The best WhatsApp tricks and tips you should know

If an attacker still gets access to your account, getting it back isn’t too tricky. You can get back your stolen account by signing back into your WhatsApp account and re-verifying your phone number as laid out in WhatsApp’s FAQ pages.