WhatsApp Encryption now available upon upgrade – See How
WhatsApp has always prioritized making your data and communication as secure as possible.
Following its newest update, WhatsApp has now enabled end-to-end encryption for all users as well as in group chats. In fact, not just your messages, but your photos and videos also can’t be read by anyone including the government.
This is so timely especially after the Apple vs. FBI feud over unlocking an iPhone belonging to a shooter. Now even WhatsApp employees can’t pry into your conversations let alone governments.
According to the message released on WhatsApp blog, it state that “From now on when you and your contacts use the latest version of the app, every call you make, and every message, photo, video, file, and voice message you send, is end-to-end encrypted by default, including group chats”.
The simply means that: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cyber criminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private sort of like a face-to-face conversation.
The encryption-focused update for the popular messaging app was first announced by WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum on his Facebook page, stating that it took his team two years to perfect this feature.
How Does WhatsApp Encryption Work?
WhatsApp says that it is using the Signal Protocol (made by Open Whisper Systems) to power its privacy-focused feature.
According to a paper released by the company, here is how WhatsApp messages are encrypted:
“Clients exchange messages that are protected with a Message Key using AES256 in CBC mode for encryption and HMAC-SHA256 for authentication. The Message Key changes for each message transmitted, and is ephemeral, such that the Message Key used to encrypt a message cannot be reconstructed from the session.”
This also applies to calls and large file attachments made over WhatsApp.
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How to Enable WhatsApp Encryption?
WhatsApp enables the encryption setting once you’ve upgraded to the current latest version. Also note that your contacts or group members must be on the new version to enjoy fully-encrypted chats.
After upgrading, you and the other users receive a message saying that Messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info.
Clicking this message gives you more information on how it works.
For verification, WhatsApp offers users a QR code which can be used by you and your contact (on WhatsApp) to check if the conversation is encrypted. You can see matching codes and a green tick confirms that the session is secure. If not, you’ll be greeted with a red-coloured exclamation mark.
Note that, currently there’s no option to turn off the feature.
WhatsApp may have enabled end-to-end encryption for chats but it can still see who you’ve sent the message to. Apparently we have ways to go if we want to be truly anonymous in the age of social media and the internet.
An update like this has become very necessary as cybercriminals and government agencies now invade people’s privacy without their knowledge. Words like privacy have all but lost their meaning, if not for measures such as these.