WhatsApp should be more secure—it is getting the balance of security and functionality wrong. As Joel Wallenstrom, CEO of uber-secure WhatsApp rival Wickr, told me, “WhatsApp is designed for consumer use, and like other consumer products, security takes a back seat to fun… If you are a consumer who wants to take privacy more seriously, then try to avoid products from companies who are monetizing end-user data.”
But the reality is that WhatsApp wins out for the size of its user-base and its simplicity. It has become the default SMS replacement for many of us. Despite its shortcomings, Wallenstrom describes WhatsApp as “a huge step up from SMS—having billions of users more protected on WhatsApp is good for the world.” But you can make it a lot safer and more secure than it comes by default. Here are three settings that you must change and one that you can change if you want to be especially secure.