Is WeChat Safe To Use?

Is WeChat Safe To Use In 2024? Examining Its Security

published on: 22.06.2024 last updated on: 25.06.2024

WeChat is one of the biggest online messaging services in the world and the biggest in China. Developed by Tencent – one of the biggest tech companies in the world (the creators of PUBG Mobile) – WeChat has over a billion users globally in 2024. However, outside China, WeChat users (and those who wish to use it) ask one common question – is WeChat safe? 

WeChat has become an international issue on everyone’s threat radar since many users (and governments) have concerns about the app’s security. Since most Chinese apps follow China’s digital protocols – which advocate customer surveillance and ignore data privacy – WeChat users are worried.  

Is WeChat constantly monitoring me? Is the Chinese government stealing my data through WeChat? Or is it keeping track of me since I use WeChat advertising

I decided to look for answers myself and dive deep into this matter. Therefore, after much research and observation, here’s a report regarding WeChat’s security that will answer everyone’s question – is WeChat safe? 

China Loves WeChat And WeChat Pay

China Loves WeChat And WeChat Pay

WeChat is China’s biggest instant messaging platform, with over 1.3 billion active users globally. Additionally, over 80% of the Chinese population uses WeChat, which is around 90 million.  This app works the same way as WhatsApp, albeit with a different UI and many features.  

Moreover, while most Chinese people use WeChat instead of Meta’s services, you can say the same for online payments. Everyone in China knows how to use WeChat Pay to transact online with contacts and retail outlets. 

Fun Fact: WeChat is known as Weixin in China, its original name. 

Examining WeChat Security Layers

Examining WeChat Security Layers

Most people ask, “Is WeChat safe?” since it’s a Chinese app. History proves that the Chinese government monitors people globally through their apps. Chinese apps have proven records of collecting personal information from your device – and even tap into your front camera! 

Moreover, WeChat might not be safe since there are two app versions. There’s the official Chinese version and an international version for foreign users. However, people believe the global version of WeChat is unsafe since it collects all your data from your smartphone! 

Therefore, let’s look at WeChat’s security features and protocols in its international version. 

1. Data Encryption

Data encryption has now become a necessity for all messaging services. Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc., all use data encryption

The international version of the WeChat app provides server encryption for all your conversations. This form of encryption refers to creating a safe channel for all your messages, making them undecipherable by third parties. 

However, these social networks use end-to-end data encryption, where not even the company can see your messages. WeChat doesn’t offer end-to-end data encryption. Instead, it provides server-side encryption, known as AES 256

2. App Permissions

When you install WeChat on your device, it will request permission to access the following: 

  • Contact List 
  • Your Google/Apple account 
  • GPS location 
  • Photos and Videos 

While almost all messaging services request such information, WeChat asks for a lot more, including: 

  • Health and fitness info 
  • Financial info 
  • User identifiers 
  • Purchases 
  • Search History 
  • Usage Data 

These are permissions that WeChat shouldn’t have access to but has it anyway. Therefore, many users are concerned about why a messaging app like WeChat needs information on your financial and search history. 

3. Data Minimization

Considering the recent WeChat data breaches, the app had to introduce new security features like data minimization

To prevent data breaches from stealing lots of user data, this feature helps WeChat to collect the information. However, unlike before, WeChat will not store this data permanently. 

But this poses another question – where does this data go? 

4. Frequent Security Audits 

WeChat is a smartphone app. As you may already know, every app or device with internet connectivity is hackable. If you know of vulnerabilities in the app’s code, you can easily ruin programs to break it down and breach into their databases. 

Therefore, due to the recent WeChat data breaches, Tencent will now conduct frequent WeChat app security audits. The primary purpose of performing these audits is to identify exploitable vulnerabilities in the app. 

Once WeChat’s development team finds these vulnerabilities, they release new updates to fix them. 

5. Regulations Compliance 

WeChat adheres to China’s regulatory compliances, which forces software companies to share all data with the government. Therefore, it is no surprise that if you use WeChat, all data associated with your profile will be shared with the Chinese government.  

These compliance regulations imposed by the Chinese government are the main criticism that WeChat faces globally. 

However, Is WeChat Safe In 2024 (Outside China)? 

Is WeChat Safe In 2024 (Outside China)? 

Now that you know what security measures WeChat has, did you find the answer to the question – is WeChat safe? 

The answer – as you expect – is still a big no. Despite WeChat introducing several new security measures to keep its database more secure, it still has lots of issues. 

However, most of these issues are not technical issues. Most of these issues stem from the fact that WeChat is collecting your data – for the Chinese government due to their regulatory policies. 

As I mentioned earlier, WeChat uses the AES 256 server-side encryption. This encryption protects your messages by storing them in a secure server.  

However, did you know that WeChat can check your messages any time they want? This is because of China’s strict laws regarding censorship of anti-China sentiments. 

Therefore, if you message anyone about China’s repressive policies on the use of social media or negative remarks against the People’s Republic of China, you will soon see the messages and images getting crossed out – or simply disappearing from your chat! 

This means that WeChat is actively snooping in on your conversations and censoring words and thoughts they deem to be anti-Chinese! Therefore, your conversations in WeChat are not secretive, making them less safe. 

Moreover, if someone manages to hack into WeChat servers, they can read the chats of millions of users. This is precisely what happened in 2021

This is why WeChat got zero points out of 100 on Amnesty International’s list of “Security Rankings of Instant Messaging Services” in 2016. 

How To Use WeChat Safely?

How To Use WeChat Safely? 

WeChat will be one of the least safe messaging services in 2024. Therefore, it answers your question, “Is WeChat safe?” – the answer is no, it’s not. 

Therefore, apart from not using WeChat, what else can you do to protect yourself from WeChat’s surveilling eyes? Learn how to delete WeChat account? Many entrepreneurs internationally use WeChat to converse with their Chinese clients.  

Therefore, here are some few tips to using WeChat safely (as much as possible): 

1. Always Be Cautious Of Your Texts 

First, you must always be cautious of what messages you send on WeChat. Since the WeChat moderators and the Chinese government are snooping in, you must ensure that you make no anti-Chinese remarks. 

Therefore, I recommend you no longer discuss anything remotely Chinese through texts or images. 

2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication 

While you must be cautious of the Chinese government while using WeChat, you must be careful about hackers, too. Therefore, while it’s optional, you must enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) in WeChat. 

When you enable WeChat 2FA, you will get a code whenever you try to log into your WeChat account from a different device. Therefore, you will instantly get to know if someone hacked your WeChat account and tried to log in from their device! 

3. Update Whenever Possible 

Finally, constantly update your WeChat app whenever there’s an update available. Since WeChat continuously improves its security against third-party attacks, it rolls these out to you through app updates. 

Therefore, always keep your WeChat app updated to get the safest experience. Moreover, remember to update your smartphone to keep your data secure. 

The Bottom Line: We Chat, But We Caution 

So, is WeChat safe in 2024, primarily for non-Chinese users? 

Unfortunately, the answer is no. WeChat is not safe 2024 for non-Chinese users. Therefore, I don’t recommend using WeChat in 2024.  

However, if you use WeChat to communicate with people in China (most entrepreneurs do this for their Chinese clients), I recommend following my guidelines to use WeChat safely. 

Thanks for reading this post! If you have any questions, please comment below!

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Debamalya is a professional content writer from Kolkata, India. Constantly improving himself in this industry for more than three years, he has amassed immense knowledge regarding his niches of writing tech and gaming articles. He loves spending time with his cats, along with playing every new PC action game as soon as possible.

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