WhatsApp is a popular online instant messaging social media platform. Its parent company is Meta-formerly Facebook. Meta has full control over WhatsApp Messenger and Business. There are more than 10 WhatsApp versions in the market.
Our primary focus will be on Meta’s WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Messenger. Actually, most of the features are modifications of the original WhatsApp messenger app. These are the versions available on Google Play and verified by Play Protect. These versions are available for Android, MacOS, Windows, and the web.
Almost every smartphone user uses WhatsApp, as reported by Statista. Additionally, Facebook admits to accessing and using WhatsApp Messenger information. These figures raise concern for security and privacy.
WhatsApp has privacy and security vulnerabilities, risks, and threats like any other app and platform. There’s always a cause for worry on third parties. So should you use your real name as a username? Read on to learn why you should use it or not.
Should I use my real name?
Your real name is the legal identity in your passport, national ID, birth certificate, and any other legal document. There’s no way that WhatsApp intimidates you to use real names as usernames. In fact, WhatsApp messenger clearly states that the name you enter is not your username or pin. That’s why you are allowed to use emoticons.
But again, the Business version nomenclature varies. You cannot use your real or burner name unless you attach enterprise identification credentials, e.g., John Doe Hardware. You can read the rules here.
Remember your friend, colleague, next of kin, and anybody else can turn out as an attacker. How many scenarios have you heard partners stalking each other on WhatsApp? The highest demographic of WhatsApp users are aged between 26-35.
Most of you are either dating, soul searching, engaged, or new in a marriage. Haven’t you at some point been busted? The fact is, using real identity can put you in trouble. A brute force attacker can use your name to find perfect matches for your credentials, to mention but a few.
If you use WhatsApp payment methods, you should use your real name. Service providers will require you to use documents whose credentials match when signing in and transacting.
At least your circle of friends and WhatsApp group’s participants can identify you with the name you use. Yet you don’t owe anyone an explanation for using weird names. The choice is yours. What matters most is the number you used to sign into WhatsApp.
What if I don’t use my real name?
Avoiding the use of your real name is not a crime, unless in the future. Your classmates know you by name. Your colleagues know your name. It’s often the people you know that contact you on WhatsApp. For WhatsApp Business, use your enterprise name.
You will likely reduce the chances of a tracker using your name compared with other usernames. Attackers countercheck your cross-platform usernames to find some actual data about you. You’d rather use a unique one for each of them. You will likely reduce the chances of a tracker using your name compared with other usernames.
For online WhatsApp transactions, it’s a different case. If you are in the select countries that support this, ensure your WhatsApp name matches the legal one.
Security and privacy risks of using real name
Brute force cyberattacks
Your username can give a hint and an exit plan to a malicious doxxer or attacker. An attacker tries out the various username and password combinations until they find a perfect match.
In credential recycling, the attacker reuses passwords and usernames from, perhaps, data brokers to try cracking your systems.
Executing reverse brute force, the attacker uses a commonly used password, e.g., john doe. They make several trials until they hit it.
Third-party identity theft
You should limit some of these permissions outside your app. I recommend you disable the location, camera, calendar, photos, contacts, and microphone permission access in Android and iOS. You should limit some of these permissions outside your app. Unless you do this, you will risk your data being stolen.
Data broker data collation
Data brokers collate and sell your data. They use various mechanisms, including data breadcrumbs like usernames, to do extensive data mining of a victim. Remember, your real name is your legal identity. This is why it makes it easy to use as a leader in data mining.
WhatsApp uses Novi and BHM UPI for instant transactions in special places. Your WhatsApp name should match your ID or bank account name to comply with the service providers. When an attacker or any malicious person gets the information, they can use it for social engineering.
They can use your name to send spammy emails and WhatsApp group links pretending to be you. Another can create an account in your name using a different number and commit the same offense.
Swatting is common in the US. A malicious person can, for instance, prank call the police and use your name as an offender.
What does WhatsApp do to protect my account?
This method ensures that your messages, voice calls, video calls, and media are encrypted on transit. Any interceptor may not read the scrambled data. The sender and recipient are the only ones who can read the information.
There’s no platform whose users have a monopoly of knowledge over it. Issues arise. That’s why WhatsApp messenger has a help center for all your problems and help.
The view once option
You can exchange media that disappear after receiving and opening just once to add to your privacy. If you use an older version, you should update it for this technique to take effect.
Two-step verification (2FA)
2FA is optional but so necessary. Upon successful account sign-in, you can access the 2FA feature. You can use a secure PIN to log into your account on a different device when you enable it. This article covers a lot of this.
Choice of who views your status, profile picture, online status, and the About feature
You have control over who can read your statuses, see your profile picture, check your last seen update, and the information of your ‘about’ feature.
Change of WhatsApp web QR code
When you log into WhatsApp web on your PC, you will remain connected, whether your Android is online/offline. But you can log out or request to change your QR code for security reasons.
Group privacy settings
The latest versions allow you to choose whoever should add you to their group(s). So whenever you dislike their ideas or suspect malice, you avoid accepting the invitation.
WhatsApp is a powerful social media platform. It comes with a variety of genuine and counterfeit versions and types. Depending on how you use it, the information you share can benefit or destroy you.
Unless stated otherwise, you should not use your real name on WhatsApp. Attackers can use your WhatsApp identity to commit malicious intentions. Be careful when using WhatsApp web.
Visit the WhatsApp webpage or social media accounts for further reading and support.