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How to Stay Safe on Telegram!

Internet security is something that we should all take very seriously. While it can seem like a bit of a pain to go through so many security measures for every app that you use, it is a lot more of a pain if you ever have any of your information stolen. While it is not particularly easy to pass your information to the wrong people using Telegram, there is something you need to understand. 

Telegram, touted as a secure, end-to-end encrypted chat service, is not as secure as you might think. You need to know that any centralized application (with a server) can be intercepted and/or compromised, even if it is encrypted. Furthermore, Telegram will keep all of your account information for 12 months. While that is not strange in the world of messaging apps, it is something to be wary of. 

Anything that you send on Telegram can be seen by others if there is a data leak. If you are careful and only ever use all messaging services to your advantage, you will be safe. 

How to Stay Safe on Telegram

While you can remain safe if you do not share any vital information, there are still steps that you should take to ensure as much privacy and safety as possible. 

While you may not think that all of these points apply to you, you should consider using them – especially if you intend to join groups with many people you do not know. 

Remember, this article will walk you through the steps you need to take to be as safe and private as possible. 

Security Settings

Close all Active Sessions

Active Sessions on Telegram
Active Sessions on Telegram

Open Telegram and click on the menu icon (three horizontal lines in the top left corner on the main page). 

  • Click settings
  • Press Devices
  • Press Terminate All Other Sessions
  • Click Terminate

This section will show you all active sessions logged into your account. If you only use Telegram on one or two devices, and they are all listed there, with no others, you may want to skip this step. However, personally, I like to do this, just in case there is a bug (doubtful, but possible), as it will ensure that you are the only person logged in on any device. If you only use Telegram on one device

Enable Two-Step Verification

As with anything important, you must enable 2-Factor Authentication. While many websites and apps make use of a stand-alone authenticator such as Google Authenticator or Authy, Telegram opts to send you a message to your app, which means you need at least one logged-in device with you when you log into another device. However, no matter which authentication method you use, you will need another device with you. 

Telegram use Two-Step Verification:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Two-step verification
  • Click Enable two-step verification
  • Enter a password. – We recommend a difficult password; if you have a password manager, you can always save your password there.
  • Re-enter the password
  • Add a password hint. – Make sure not to give away the password here.
  • Enter a recovery email. – use your most used email address. 
  • Click Save
  • You will receive an email with your confirmation code. 
  • Enter the code and press submit. 

You will receive a message on Telegram to confirm that Two-Step Verification settings changed. 

That’s it. From now, any time you log into your account on a new device, you will need a code from your logged-in device and the password you have just set. 

Set a Local Passcode

With the number of devices that we all use Telegram on now, it is impossible to have them with you all of the time. While you may trust everyone who has access to your computer, there are times when you are unsure of who can see it. For example, if you use Telegram at work, live in shared accommodation, or any other time your device may be exposed, such as losing your phone. 

Local Passcode Telegram
Local Passcode Telegram

Local passcodes allow for another layer of security to your Telegram, meaning that if anyone ever gains access to your device, they need another password to do anything.

How to set up a Local Passcode:

  • Menu
  • Settings 
  • Privacy and Security
  • Scroll to Local Passcode
  • Click Turn on Local Passcode
  • Enter a Passcode. – Make sure this is something different from your passwords. There is no requirement to use any number of characters, so you can use a number here. However, if you ever face a hacker, it is ideal that you use a secure passcode. 
  • Re-enter passcode
  • Click Save
  • Change the Auto-Lock setting for as low as you are comfortable.

Remember that this is only a local passcode for the device on which you are setting it up. If you want to set it up on all devices, you will need to follow the steps again on that specific device. 

Furthermore, if you forget this code, you will need to log out and back in, and it still shows when you receive messages, although you cannot see what they are or who from. 

Being able to log out and back in means that if anyone has access to your password, this code is useless. Although, it is still worth using, providing you keep all of your passwords safe.

Set Fingerprint

To add a fingerprint lock to your phone (the feature is currently unavailable to the desktop version, even if you have a fingerprint scanner), follow the same steps as above. There are some differences though:

  1. On your phone, it is called Passcode Lock (still under settings – Privacy and Security)
  2. You can only use a four-digit security code
  3. After entering your passcode, you can select the “Unlock with Fingerprint” option. However, it is usually selected by default. 

Using your fingerprint is a safer and easier way to log in, so we recommend using it when you can.

Clear Payment and Shipping Info

You can use Telegram as a payment intermediary, which means you can store your payment details on sites through Telegram. 

Even if you have not entered any payment details, it is always wise to clear the info. 

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Bots and Websites
  • Clear Payment and Shipping Info
  • Make sure both are ticked and click Clear and Clear again

Automatic Media Download

You do not want to download all media from all chats and groups that you are in, as you are likely to find files on your device that you do not recognize. To change the settings, do the following:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Advanced
  • Automatic media download
  • Then change your preferences to suit

I often keep files turned off, as there is a possibility they are things I am not interested in or potentially dangerous. However, set it as you would like. 

Privacy Settings

Hide your Phone Number

If you are joining many groups, or even just one with people you do not know, this step is a must. Scammers know that people rarely hide their phone numbers, and it is too easy to let them fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, make sure you do this – you only have to do it on one device, and Telegram will hide it from all sessions. 

Hide Phone Number On Telegram
Hide Phone Number On Telegram
  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Phone number

Here you will see some options. The way that I have it set up is:

Who can see your phone number:

  • Nobody

Who can find me by my number:

  • My contacts

Add exceptions

  • Nobody

The only contacts who can find you are people you have in your phonebook or which you add to your contacts in Telegram. 

Check this feature regularly because if you add someone to your contacts (if you work with them, for them, or they work for you), Telegram sometimes shares your phone number with them, even if you do not want to. 

Forwarded Messages Privacy

If you are in groups, someone may forward your message to other individuals or groups. There is no way to stop that, but you do have some control over what is available in the forwarded message. 

You may see that sometimes, you can click on the name of the originating message, and it will open up the User Info dialogue. You can stop that from happening to your account, giving fewer people access to contact you.

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Forwarded Messages
  • Who can add a link to my account when forwarding my messages 

Our opinion is that you should set this to “Nobody.” There are times where linking your account may be beneficial, but it is always best to add an exception (below the options) if and when you need to. 

Group Invite Settings

If you have been a member of a group for any length of time, the chances are that you have seen someone add many people to the group. Sometimes this is a spam trick to get more members into a group; other times, it is a genuine attempt at sharing something valuable. However, either way, being added to groups is something many people do not want without their permission. 

Stop people from adding you to Telegram groups
Stop people from adding you to Telegram groups

To stop people from adding you to groups, follow the steps below:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Groups and Channels
  • Who can add me to groups and channels
  • My contacts
  • Add exceptions. – Here, you can allow or block certain people from adding you to groups and channels. However, there is rarely a reason to allow people who are not your contacts to add you to any other group or channel.

Personally, I would like to see another option here, not allowing anyone to add you, not even your contacts, but that is not possible at the moment. 

Remember to click Save when you have updated your preferences. 

Profile Photo

People like to show various life moments in their profile pictures on Telegram. However, rarely do people want everyone in all groups to see it. To change the settings here, go to:

  • Menu 
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Profile Photo
  • Who can see my profile photo

You have the choice to let “Everybody” or “My contacts” see your profile photo. While you may want to stop everyone from seeing it, you can simply delete the profile images that you have. 

You need to remember that if you do not delete your profile photos, people can scroll through them and see them all. 

Delete your profile images:

  • Menu
  • Settings 
  • Edit profile
  • Click on the circle photo
  • Three dots
  • Scroll through to see which photos you want to delete
  • Delete – Delete. – You can download them first with the down arrow if you want to save them on your device.

Calls

Regardless of having your phone number visible or not, people can use Telegram to call you unless you change the settings.

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Calls
  • Who can call me

I have my personal settings to “Nobody.” If you want to allow people to call you, you can add them into your exceptions rules below the options.  

Additional Security Information

All of the steps above will keep you and your account as safe as possible. However, there are still some things that you can do to make sure you do not create any issues for yourself. While some of them are very obvious, we will run through them anyway – just to be on the safe side. 

Username

Pick a username that is not easily personally identifiable to you. For example, do not use something like John_Smith_1980. 

Do Not Share Personal Data

There is rarely any requirement for you to share your personal data on Telegram, so don’t. 

Suppose you ever do need to send information over telegram to an employer or someone else. In that case, you should consider creating a folder on your pc with the details, zipping it, encrypting it with a password (that you are happy for the other person to have access to), and sending the file over Telegram. 

Remember, use an alternative communication method to send them the password. 

Bio

Your bio is available to view by anyone in any groups that you are in. Make sure not to share personal information here. 

Last Seen & Online

Not everyone is concerned about letting other people know when you were last online. However, if you want to limit who can see your last seen time, follow the steps below:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Last seen & online

Personally, I allow my contacts to see when I was last online and block anyone else. However, the choice is yours. You can also “Always share” or “Never share” with selected people or groups. 

Do Not Engage with People if you are Unsure of Who They Are

In groups, it is difficult to not engage with people you do not know – and it can be pointless even joining groups if you are not going to talk to others. However, if you ever get private messages from someone you are unsure of, do not talk to them. 

There are times when people from groups will contact you, asking for or offering advice, but make sure you know who they are and why they are contacting you before you engage with them. 

Do Not Click Links

Links are dangerous, and you can do some severe damage if you click on a link that you do not know. Therefore, always treat all links with suspicion. 

However, Telegram does do a pretty good job of showing links and where they are pointed to. For example, even a hyperlinked word (a blue word with a link behind it) will show the metadata for the link. Furthermore, you can hover over a link, and a popup will show you the URL. 

The problem is that it is easy to mask a URL with a different domain, so it may look like you will visit one site, but in fact, you visit a completely different one. 

Therefore, always ensure you trust the sender before clicking. 

Report and Block

Never be afraid to report messages or block accounts if you feel they are threatening. 

If you want to report a specific message:

Right-click (on desktop) or quick press (on mobile) on the message you want to report, and click report. The message will be sent to the Telegram moderating team for review.

If you want to block a specific account:

Click on the profile image or name of the account you wish to block, click block, and confirm by pressing block. That account will no longer be able to call or message you, no matter what the settings above are. 

However, this setting will not stop you from seeing any of the messages from that account in any group. 

To see all of the accounts you have blocked, go to:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Blocked Users

You can also unblock accounts from there, too, in case you accidentally blocked someone you didn’t mean to. You can also unblock them in the same way as you blocked them. 

Sensitive Content

Sensitive content is, well, sensitive. If you want to block all sensitive content, you can do it by following the instructions:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Sensitive content

By default, sensitive content should be blocked. Turn the slider on to allow, off to disallow.  

Auto Account Disabling

The option to automatically disable your account falls under all of the above sections. If there is any reason you are unable to or decide not to use your account for a specific time,  Telegram will delete your account, all chats, groups, messages, and media not stored on your devices. 

You first need to know that the option is already activated for self-destruction after 6-months of inactivity. If you want to change the time, do the following:

  • Menu
  • Settings
  • Privacy and Security
  • Delete my account – if away for…
  • Select the time frame and click save

Conclusion

If you have gone through everything in this article, you can rest assured that you are as safe as possible while using Telegram. Just remember, keep your wits about you, do not share information that you don’t want people getting hold of. 

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