When discussing the privacy and security of messenger apps, one needs to understand that the Telegram’s functionality goes beyond the simple messages exchange and has many surprising features. With Telegrams’ user-base exceeding over 500 million active monthly users recently, as confirmed by its founder, it now combines elements of a massive communication hub, messaging board and social media – and its security and privacy concepts differ from others.
Kaspersky’s experts suggest 5 tips to make sure your experience of using Telegram is as secure as possible:
1. Pick a username and use it instead of your actual name or associated phone number when chatting with others.
2. Enable 2FA for your account. If someone tries to take control over your account, hijacking a voice call or a text message with a temporary verification code won’t be enough. The attacker will still have to deal with your password. If it’s strong and unique, the account takeover will become a significant problem. This feature is available in “Settings” – “Privacy and Security” – “Two-step Verification.”
3. When chatting with others, consider using the “Secret Chats” feature. It means your account and chats will have better encryption, where each message is encrypted with two keys available only for you and your recipient.
4. Regularly review the “Active Sessions” option available in “Settings” – “Privacy and Security”. It helps to find out if your Telegram account is enabled on any other device besides yours. If you find anything unknown or suspicious, terminate those sessions and change your “Two-step verification” password.
5. To maximise your privacy integrity, when signing up on Telegram, use a virtual number instead of your real mobile number. Make sure it is not a disposable virtual number; otherwise, someone can still hijack your account. Your virtual number is the one you own and is not connected to your mobile carrier.
Of course, when setting up your account it’s also important to make sure your information is private to the point comfortable to you. There are several settings that you can play up or down in terms of exposure to the world around by accessing “Settings” and then “Privacy and Security”.
Focus on things like; who can view your phone number, who can view your activity, and who can invite you to message boards.
However, the most important tip might be to make sure you fully understand the functionality of any app installed on your device, and Telegram is no exception: “When it comes to Telegram, it might be more appropriate to call it a platform, as its functions go way beyond a simple message exchange,” says Dmitry Bestuzhev, a cybersecurity expert Kaspersky.
“For instance, there is a feature called “People Nearby”. It locates other Telegram users around you and the groups any of them have created. So when you or your kids use Telegram, you need to understand that in addition to messengers’ functionality, it has elements of the dating apps and message boards, users of which are free to share any type of content accessible and visible to you or others. However, while the current version of the app doesn’t allow you to disable showing those groups, you can still tune up your Telegram settings to prevent transmitting your location to them and become invisible for the nearby users.”
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