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How secure are your photos on social media? And how to protect them

In this day and age, almost everyone has a digital footprint. It can be hard to keep track of where you leave your mark on the internet, but malicious eyes are watching. How safe is your data, specifically, your photos?

Let’s talk about that.

Whatsapp

As it is generally regarded as a messaging service, most people aren’t too worried about the pictures they send. This is, of course, because they assume that only the recipient can see the picture.

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If you are among the unconcerned, you’re right. Though Whatsapp had fallen prey to malevolent users in its early days, it has been mostly hacker-proof since the update in late 2014.

Every message you send on Whatsapp is secured with end-to-end encryption, guaranteeing security in transit. In simple terms, this means that nobody except the intended recipient can see your message.

Whatsapp’s TextSecure protocol issues a fresh key for every message you send. Whatsapp doesn’t store the decryption keys in a centralised server, but only on the user’s device.

This system is very useful but still doesn’t grant you complete immunity.

How to protect your photos on WhatsApp?

Restrict access to your profile picture and status: Anyone with ill intentions can run a reverse image search to find out where you have used that picture before. This can lead them to other information as well and leave you vulnerable to doxing.

Avoid scams: Don’t follow suspicious links. Whatsapp has made it very clear that it will never contact users via texts. Don’t engage or interact; avoid fishy messages completely.

Deactivate Whatsapp if you lose your phone: A particular phone number can access the app from only one device at a time. If you lose your phone, you can install Whatsapp on a device using the same number.

Also read: How to verify your WhatsApp Business account

Facebook

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook movement, users are right to be sceptical.

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In September 2018, a bug caused Facebook to expose private photos of nearly 6.8 million users. Up to 1500 apps that weren’t supposed to see them may have inappropriately gained access.

Interestingly enough, Whatsapp’s robust security took shape after Facebook acquired it. It’s disheartening to see that the parent company isn’t doing such a good job at blocking threats.

There isn’t much you can do to escape future data leaks that seem inevitable. However, you can ensure your privacy at a grassroot level.

How to protect your photos on Facebook?

Never share personal details: This may sound like a no-brainer, but even inconsequential information can put you in danger. For example, stalkers may be very interested in your location and relationship status. Even listing your birthday can help doxxers build a sinister picture.

Check your privacy settings: Do not allow people you don’t know to become your Facebook friends. Avoid making your posts public; make your posts visible only to your friends or a smaller group that you implicitly trust. You can also run the privacy checkups that Facebook offers.

Do not share pictures of children: With just a simple image, you may give away tons of information. Avoid sharing the age, school, location, schedule, or even the full name of children; yours or otherwise. Such data leaves them open to attack.

Also read: Deleting vs Deactivating your Facebook account: Which one should you do?

Instagram

Perhaps the most popular and well-loved social media site today is Instagram. On the surface, it seems to have perfect security. Those with private accounts can decide who follows them and who gets to see what.

How to protect your photos on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

Moreover, Insta doesn’t allow users to enlarge and view profile pictures, preventing reverse image searches.

However, in August 2018, Instagram was hit by Russian hackers. They seized control of over a thousand accounts, either locking the users out completely or posting on behalf of them.

The nature of the attack is such that Instagram cannot do much about it, though they claimed to have been investigating the issue and would take action.

A spokesperson said that they immediately shut off access to compromised accounts and begin remediation when the claim is verified.

Should you choose to continue using Instagram despite the security risk, make sure, you protect yourself as much as possible.

How to protect your photos on Instagram?

Turn on two-factor authentication: This is the most effective form of protecting yourself against hackers. Instagram sends a code to your registered mobile number as a part of the login process. So, even if a hacker has your password, they can’t access your account.

Secure card details: You can now purchase things directly from an advertiser’s post or story. If you save your credit card information, make sure to secure it with a four digit pin.

Revoke access to third-party apps: Many third-party apps are connected with Instagram. Though they seem harmless, they may get indexed by Google. Consequently, your pictures show up on Google image searches.

Also read: How to log yourself out of Facebook and Instagram from all devices?

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