We live in an era where quick answers is unquestionable. It is no coincidence that research shows that WhatsApp is the third most used social network in the world, with over 1.5 billion users – if we consider other instant messaging systems, we will see that no other type of social media application is so popular on the planet. Therefore, in these times, online messengers are a communication asset above any dispute.

The problem, however, is that these Apps are not immune to the threats and risks associated to the digital environment. In fact, we can say that WhatsApp – when mismanaged – can be a major gateway to malicious attacks associated to theft or hijacking of personal information and operations. According to market research, chat apps have been a major target of scam and fraud attempts, with fake link submissions and malware.

That is why it is essential that companies should pay attention to the use of these solutions, seeking practices and resources that add more security to the routine use of smartphones, computers, and networks. The goal should always be to optimize the user experience, without giving up control of activities and information integrity.

It is important that business leaders are aware of this point, because today, the adoption of instant communication tools is an action often neglected, seen as a separate system from the operation of companies. With the expansion of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) actions and easing of work environments, it is natural that employees use their smartphones, tablets and notebooks connected to the corporate network to access WhatsApp and other personal applications.

In this scenario, it is worth noting that global studies indicate that over two-thirds of active mobile devices do not have installed security solutions. In other words: they can be much more easily hacked or cloned, generating an major chance of data theft.

Another point worth considering is that chat networks have also become major sources of information. According to specialized reports, over 80% of Brazilians use Facebook’s instant messaging platform as a way to receive or share news.

This makes room, among other things, for the advancement of fake news and, in addition, for fraud and phishing scams. As in our e-mail folder, we are increasingly bombarded by promotions and unmissable links in instant messengers as well. The difference, in this case, is that these links end up coming through known groups and contacts – which implies that users need to always have the attention doubled to prevent access to fake and malicious websites.

Of course, this is not the only risk associated with using WhatsApp in companies. There are dozens of scams circulating on the Internet and in the real world, with strategies more sophisticated than ever before. The question, therefore, is: what can we do to mitigate these threats?

The first answer is to work with caution and notify users. Companies can improve data security indexes, for example by empowering and qualifying their employees on web protection best practices – including in conversation applications. Not accessing unknown links and checking the origin of new information and contacts, for example, are two good initiatives.

In addition to the creation of a cybersecurity-oriented culture, one will need to invest in the use of technology capable of identifying gaps and preventing attacks, with content filters and firewalls that limit access to information through unregistered devices or by employee profile levels. Creating network-specific security standards is vital.

Likewise, it is very valid to indicate to the users what they can do to increase the security of the environment. For example, it is advisable to activate double-factor checks on accounts, including for registration of new devices. This prevents an account from being cloned and personal data of customers and employees themselves being improperly exposed.

With the entry into force of the data protection laws, it is vital that companies seek to mitigate the risks as much as possible by identifying and correcting the vulnerabilities in the operation. This requires, among other things, the analysis of procedures in relation to the most trivial points of daily life, such as the adoption of WhatsApp within the business process.

Digital Transformation and the rise of the Mobile Internet are bringing many advantages to businesses. Instant communication is undoubtedly one of them. However, it is essential to create conditions for these innovations to be used to add value to operations without causing unnecessary damage. The best of technology should be used in all ways, but always with safety in the forefront. Seeing which companies will be prepared to get the most out of mobility while creating a safe and high-performance environment remains to be seen.

With more than 5,000 clients, Blockbit is one of the leading manufacturers of cybersecurity solutions, empowering businesses to protect themselves against a wide range of threats, vulnerabilities, and cyberattacks, whether internal or external, generic or specific.