Data Protection Tips for Using WhatsApp

Topics: Small Business

Summary: WhatsApp is an extremely popular free app allowing people to keep in contact with friends and family worldwide. As with any online application, WhatsApp might not be secure, especially for business communication. Find out how to protect your business data when using WhatsApp.

Protecting Your Business Data When Using WhatsApp

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a free app that allows users to make video and voice calls and send text messages via a WiFi connection. This feature makes the app ideal for international calling. WhatsApp allows users to share PDFs, spreadsheets, zip files, slideshows and more within the app. It currently has over 2 billion global active users. WhatsApp states that they use end-to-end encryption, a secure communications standard, where only the sender and the recipient can read the messages.

WhatsApp for Business Usage

WhatsApp is becoming increasingly popular in international workplaces as a way for colleagues to communicate. The mobile messaging app can be a good way for team members to stay in touch – particularly if they work remotely – to network and share ideas. However, using WhatsApp for business purposes can make companies vulnerable to many privacy and data protection risks, including:
  • Sharing of confidential, sensitive, or personal information
  • Loss of possible business-related data on employee-owned devices

These vulnerabilities can happen if the phones are not appropriately protected with encryption and an auto-screen lock with a complex passcode/password.

Tips for Protecting Company-Owned Data When Using WhatsApp

If you must use WhatsApp on a corporate or personally-owned device, please use the following steps to protect your company-owned data:
  • Ensure the data provided is kept safe and confidential, as confidentiality is a fundamental factor when processing data via WhatsApp.
  • Monitor for updates and run them as soon as they are released, as WhatsApp has had various security bugs.
  • If you frequently leave your phone unlocked, set up a screen lock for WhatsApp.
  • Deactivate your WhatsApp account if your phone is stolen.
  • Do not click on any suspicious links.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for a two-step verification process to protect your WhatsApp account. Commonly called 2FA, when you enable it, WhatsApp adds a second layer of protection to your account.
  • Never share your six-digit WhatsApp registration code or two-step verification PIN with others.
  • As an additional measure, you can protect WhatsApp with a fingerprint or face ID lock, similar to how you protect your iPhone or Android device.
  • Follow the guidelines in your company’s data loss prevention policy.
  • Do not share employee, customer, company-sensitive, proprietary or personal information while using WhatsApp.
  • Disable the Auto Group Addition option. By default, WhatsApp makes it very easy to add anyone to a group. If you give your number to a salesperson, for example, you might end up in several promotional groups.
  • Do not communicate with customers using WhatsApp. Use your usual corporate communications systems.
  • To keep your WhatsApp fully secure, enable encryption for your WhatsApp backups.
  • Do not allow WhatsApp to download your contacts list.
  • If using WhatsApp on your computer, do not install the desktop application; instead, use the WhatsApp Web Client. Malicious versions (referred to as “clones”) of the desktop app are being distributed across the internet.
  • If your WhatsApp account retains conversations with sensitive information that you don’t need to access again, you can bulk delete them.

AmTrust Offers Cyber Insurance

As cyber attacks continue to intensify, companies must protect their internal records and employee and customer information from data breaches. Every organization should offer data security training and create a company-wide data breach policy with a response plan ready to implement when/if it is needed.

AmTrustCyber provides additional security to safeguard your company against loss and damage due to a cyber attack. Contact us today to find out how you can benefit from a cyber insurance policy and how to protect your organization from cybersecurity attacks and other data breach threats.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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