WhatsApp is notoriously difficult to hack, but somehow scammers have found a new way to gain access to the texting apps end-to-end encryption.

The Telecommunications Authority has issued an advisory on Twitter for WhatsApp users and warned that they should not reply to code verification messages unless it is triggered by the subscriber. Many WhatsApp accounts have been hacked through this method.

When WhatsApp is installed on an Android or iOS device, WhatsApp sends a verification code to check if you are the owner of the phone number. In this case, however, the scammer is sending you a WhatsApp code and a link and not a six-digit verification code. Clicking on the link sent by the scammer simply confirms to WhatsApp that it is you — on behalf of the scammer. This means you lose control of your WhatsApp account and the scammer can read and send messages on your behalf.

WhatsApp users are being warned to not share the verification code, should they receive one unexpectedly and without requesting one. If they do their account could be compromised and many accounts have been hacked in this way, leading to users losing all their details and in some cases private information.

Protect Your WhatsApp Account

1. Always install the latest software and app updates.

2. Don’t jailbreak or root your devices. Disabling software restrictions leaves your phone, as well as the private data stored on it, vulnerable to malware and cyber criminals.

3. Only install apps from official app stores, such as Google Play or the app store that came pre-installed with your device.

WhatsApp security tips:

WhatsApp recently announced that it has more than 700 million monthly active members, sending a combined total of 30 billion messages a month. That’s an enormous volume of personal information being communicated, and even though WhatsApp now encrypts all of its messages and data, it pays to be secure with your chats.

Lock WhatsApp: One of the best WhatsApp security tips is to protect the app with a password or PIN. WhatsApp itself doesn’t offer such a function, but there are third-party apps that do. It might seem cumbersome but if you lose your phone, it’s going to prevent anyone else accessing your chats. Messenger and Chat Lock, Lock for WhatsApp and Secure Chat are three Android apps that do just that.

Watch out for scams: WhatsApp itself will never contact you through the app. Also, WhatsApp does not send emails about chats, voice messages, payment, changes, photos, or videos, unless you email their help and support to begin with. Anything offering a free subscription, claiming to be from WhatsApp or encouraging you to follow links in order to safeguard your account is definitely a scam and not to be trusted.

Deactivate WhatsApp: if you lose your phone WhatsApp offers users simple and effective security tips to keep control of your account if your phone is lost or stolen. As well as locking your SIM card through your network provider, WhatsApp recommends that you immediately activate WhatsApp with the same phone number on a different phone, with a replacement SIM. The app can only be used by one number on one device at a time, so by doing so you instantly block it from being used on your old phone. If that’s not possible, WhatsApp can deactivate your account.