1. Make Use of Your Phone’s Biometric Security Options
Signal comes with a built-in app locker that takes advantage of your phone’s own biometric security options, including fingerprint, FaceID and so on. Turning the feature on should be one of the first things you should do if you just started using the app.
It’s called “Screen Lock,” and you can find it by tapping on the three-dot menu from the app and then going to Settings. Next up, select Privacy and toggle on Screen Lock from there.
It is also a bad idea to set a “Screen lock inactivity timeout.” If you ever forget your phone with your screen on while in Signal, it will turn off automatically.
With Screen Lock activated, you’ll notice a small “Signal is unlocked” notification in your notification bar at the top of the screen. Swipe down on it, then tap on the “Lock Signal” option to lock your app.
The next time you access the app, you’ll have to re-authenticate yourself.
2. Link Your PC
Other than your mobile, you can also use Signal on your PC. Download Signal for desktop on your PC and follow the steps described.
The whole process is very similar to the mobile WhatsApp. You’ll need to scan a QR code with your phone by going to “Settings -> Linked Devices” and pressing on the “+” button in the lower-right corner. Next, you’ll have to wait a few seconds while the service syncs your contacts and groups to your PC.
Note: the desktop app does not sync your previous messages.
3. Verify that You Have Secure Communication with a Contact
Signal relies on an end-to-end encryption protocol to keep all messages safe that were exchanged between phones. Even so, there’s an extra layer of protection you can add. If you’re about to share really sensitive info with a contact, you may want to verify them first.
You can do that by opening up the targeted chat. Next, tap on the name of the user at the top of the display. Scroll down until you find the option to “Verify Safety Number.” Tap on it, with your contact following the same steps on their respective device at the same time. The app will now generate a list of safety codes as well as a QR code.
Now, tap on the QR code on your phone to scan the code on your contact’s phone or ask them to scan the code instead. You have now successfully verified your contact!
If your contact is not near you, you can use the “Share” button to send the safety codes to your contact via the app. They will compare their own numbers with the numbers that you just sent, and if they match, you’re good to go and can start messaging safely.
4. Turn on Disappearing Messages
WhatsApp added this feature not too long ago, but if you recently migrated to Signal, you can keep using this option.
Turn it on by tapping on a conversation and then on the name of the user at the top of the screen. Next find the “Disappearing Messages” and turn the option on.
Unlike WhatsApp, which lets you hold on to your messages for seven days before deleting them, Signal has more options to offer ranging from five seconds to up to one week. Note that messages will only start disappearing after they have been viewed by the recipient.
5. Prevent Screenshots from Being Taken Inside the App
If you’re still worried that somebody might be messing with your privacy, despite the safety measures you’ve already employed, you can add another layer of protection.
Go to “Settings -> Privacy -> Screen Security.” Enable the feature to ensure that the app will block any screenshot attempts in the Recents list, as well as inside of the app.
6. Change What Notifications Show
In Signal you can tweak what the notifications show by following a few steps.
Go to “Settings -> Notifications -> Show.” Tap on the option and select what exactly you want your Signal notifications to display.
- Name and message
- Name only
- No name or messages
If you’ve selected the last variant, you won’t be notified at all when a new message arrives, so you’ll have to remember to check the app regularly.
7. Send Images that Can Be Viewed Only Once
This is a feature reminiscent of Instagram. As it turns out, you can also take advantage of something similar in Signal.
Open a conversation and tap the Camera icon to select the image you want to send.
Next, tap on the infinity symbol in the lower-right corner of the display. It should change to “1x.” Press Send. The image will disappear from both ends once it has been viewed by your contact.
8. Protect Your IP Address
Signal has a feature that hides your IP address from your contacts during calls. Instead, what’s visible is Signal’s IP address, so your identify will be protected.
Signal warns that enabling this feature may reduce the call quality (this is due to tunneling), but if privacy is a top priority to you, then you should definitely give it a shot. You can find it by going to “Settings -> Privacy -> Always relay calls.” Toggle the option on after finding it in the Communication section.
9. Take Notes
Signal can double as a note-taking app, too. Simply tap on the Pencil button at the bottom of the display like you’d do to start a new chat. Scroll down until you find “Note to Self.” Tap on it and start typing your notes. It’s that simple!
If you’re still not convinced that switching to Signal is a good idea, perhaps you’d like to expand your perspective by checking out our WhatsApp vs. Signal vs. Telegram comparison. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to continue using WhatsApp, then you should make sure that you use these security precautions.