WhatsApp, one of the most popular phone number-based mobile Instant Messenger recently announced the completion of their WhatsApp end-to-end encryption upgrade. Among the big names in this space, they were the first.
Privacy and security is in our DNA, which is why we have end-to-end encryption in the latest versions of our app. When end-to-end encrypted, your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, and calls are secured from falling into the wrong hands.
End-to-end encryption is available when you and the people you message are on the latest versions of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. Your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read your message. For added protection, every message you send has a unique lock and key. All of this happens automatically: no need to turn on settings or set up special secret chats to secure your messages.
Important: End-to-end encryption is always activated, provided all parties are using the latest version of WhatsApp. There is no way to turn off end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp, a Facebook owned phone number-based mobile IM, partnered with Open Whisper Systems–the developer of Signal messaging app using the Signal Protocol (f. two separate software: TextSecure and RedPhone), one of the original mobile IM that offers end-to-end encryption by default–to implement their encryption technology into WhatsApp.
Today, that partnership came into fruition. WhatsApp communication is fully encrypted. From messages and calls, to images and video.
What is end-to-end encryption?
Basically, an end-to-end encryption means that your app and your contact’s app were able to verify and guarantee that both of you are who you claim to be, and not an impostor pretending to be you or your friend. Secondly, it also ensures that a man-in-the-middle attack is rendered useless, if not impossible, by encrypting all your communication right from your app and can only be read by your contact.
Not even the servers of WhatsApp or anyone from their company can listen or read your communication. This means that the privacy intrusions by the alphabet agencies around the world will not be able to as well. Security, privacy, and guarantee are the key points of an end-to-end encryption.
I am not hiding anything. How do I turn it off so the government does not get suspicious!
First of all, the notion that “if you are not hiding anything, you do not have to be afraid of the government” is the least funny joke in the history of humanity. Security, privacy, and the guarantee that the person you are in contact with is s/he who s/he claims to be, are basic rights of each human being.
It does not matter if you are hiding something or not. Would you like it if there are people listening to your conversations with your wife? Would you like it if there are people listening in your business meetings? Of course not. Otherwise, we would not have concepts like “closed door meetings”, “privacy”, “intimate communication”, “top secret”, and so on.
The government has been, is, and will always hide things from us and we can not have a simply privacy for ourselves? The government is citing “national security” but is not allowing us to have “personal security”? They spend millions of taxpayers money to develop encryption but they are telling us “if you have nothing to hide you do not need encryption”?
No, just no.
Regardless, there is no “on” or “off” switch in WhatsApp’s implementation of the end-to-end encryption. If you truly believe that you do not need it because you have nothing to hide, there are countless of Instant Messenger software out there, WhatsApp is simply no longer for you.
I am fully secured?
Yes and no. An end-to-end encryption is not the be-all end-all solution. There are still ways to get around it especially if data/metadata is still being retained by the company. There is also your habit. If you use less secure services together with highly secured ones, there is always danger of leakages.
Thus, if you are fighting against your government or some corrupt political dynasty, having two separate phones is your best option. Setting up a darknet (like: TOR and I2P) and using a darknet-based Instant Messenger are also highly recommended.
Bottomline, it is all about trust. If you trust the implementation of WhatsApp and the company itself, then use their product for highly sensitive and highly dangerous information or activities. If not, then a darknet like TOR and I2P are your best bet (and disposable phones too), and seriously change your habits.
For more about WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryptions, see these official pages:
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WhatsApp End-to-End Encryption is Live by Yuki (雪) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Legal Notice.