WhatsApp end-to-end encryption has gained a lot of attention from users as well the government. Recently a petition was filed by a WhatsApp user to ban its use. However, the request was turned down and the app is running successfully in India.
Recently, many other companies like Facebook are trying to follow the WhatsApp footsteps to provide end-to-end encryption to users. So what is this fuss about? Why are tech giants going after embedding end-to-end encryption to their applications? Let’s under the concept:
What is WhatsApp End-to-end Encryption
The latest version of WhatsApp makes use of a unique security technology through which the messages can’t be intercepted when they travel between devices. It means only you and your recipient will be able to read messages, view pictures and videos shared. Your messages are secured with a lock and only the recipient, and you have the unique key needed to unlock and read them. Moreover, every message you share within the messaging app has its unique lock and key.
Backend Story Behind WhatsApp Encryption
WhatsApp has implemented ‘The Signal Protocol’ designed by Open Whisper Systems to keep third-parties like cybercriminals and government officials away from private communication.
There is no need to provide any special key or turn on settings to activate this feature. If you are running the latest version of WhatsApp, then you are good to go. You will not view anything on the front-end, but everything will happen automatically while you transmit the messages.
WhatsApp calls are also encrypted in the same manner your messages. This means that not only WhatsApp officials but also third parties will not be able to listen and track your calls.
If a communication can be read only by sender and recipient, then it will surely pose threats to security agencies not only across the world but also India. It will be difficult for law enforcement and investigative agencies to obtain transcripts from WhatsApp in the case of any breach in security.
According to reports coming in, the security agencies have already presented the matter before Telecom Ministry to ensure that proper safeguards are in place before the services could be allowed in the country.
In the past, WhatsApp has been used extensively by various anti-national elements to spread rumors, which led to violent clashes. Even in the US, top attorneys are very much concerned about the possible misuse of the messaging app and the difficulty to obtain relevant information from the app company.
In addition to text messages, all videos, audio, images, and files will also be encrypted.
You will be able to take advantage of encryption feature in group chats unless all the members in your group use the latest version of WhatsApp.
It is possible to verify whether the messages and calls are indeed encrypted. To work with this feature, you need to tap on the message that reads the conversation is “Messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption.” You will be able to view a QR code followed by a 60-digit number, which you can make use of with another person you are communicating with.
All your existing messages including related media will remain intact even after the integration of encryption. WhatsApp should make sure that the system is not abused in any manner and should put strong measures in place to tackle any kind of misuse.