Amid growing concerns over privacy of user data, and consumer security from prying eyes, WhatsApp has decided to speak of security. And we’re glad to hear that. Also Read - WhatsApp beta for iOS reveals changes, here's what users might get
Persistent encryptionAlso Read - How to temporarily deactivate/permanently delete WhatsApp account
The company shared a few details on the end-to-end encryption it applies to guard the conversations you cherish. Ever since the global roll out of the security feature last year, every chat window you open shows a message, Messages to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info. In case you ever wondered what it meant, read on. Also Read - WhatsApp COVID-19 relief efforts: How you can get resources during the pandemic
To encrypt messages over its network, WhatsApp uses the Open Whisper System s Signal protocol at the sender s end, and then to decrypt at the receiver s end. In doing so, only the two people who are part of the conversation are privy to the messages. Even WhatsApp can’t read them.
Encryption over devices or the web
This level of security holds true even while you’re using WhatsApp for Web. According to the company, end-to-end encryption is a default feature and can t really be disabled. The infographic below, illustrates exactly how the end-to-end encryption works.
Reiterating how secure this feature is, Alan Kao, Software Engineer at WhatsApp says that there’s minimal possibility that a hacker can steal the encryption key used to secure your message. In fact, even if someone did manage to get hold of the key, they’d only be able to see one message all thanks to the use of a unique encryption key for every single message sent on the platform. This nearly rules out the probability of a hacker getting access to a message.
Our changing ways
As technology has evolved, so have our consumption patterns and digital communication traits changed. We’ve gone from emails and chat applications to instant messaging.
You may not have realized it, but WhatsApp has become an integral part of your communication mechanism. What else can explain the 1.3 billion monthly active users with 1 billion using the app every day?
The company adds that India has over 200 million monthly active users. The way Indians are using WhatsApp has also undergone quite a bit of change. Beyond just chatting, the app is building communities, solving problems, and emerging as a channel for outreach for governments. RELATED: Looking for ways to minimize fake news on platform: WhatsApp
This surge in user growth only underscores why WhatsApp considers India an essential market. It’s no secret that the company is working on integrating payment into the app. It’s widely believed it could UPI for this. WhatsApp spokesperson Carl Woog however wouldn t comment on how far the development of this feature has reached.
Given the potential use cases, it becomes all the more important that messages sent on WhatsApp stay extremely secure. We built WhatsApp with security in mind, Kao reiterates.
Are we secure?
While end-to-end encryption is no doubt the best option right now, it can be a tad limited when it comes to how it keeps our data safe. For example, it’s only limited to the messages being sent on the platform. In case you’re using a third-party keyboard that’s compromised, then there’s no certain way of telling if your key taps aren’t getting siphoned off.
Secondly, the encryption also doesn t completely cover chat backups. Kao clarified that the backups are only encrypted while they are being sent to the respective cloud service Google Cloud on Android, and iCloud on iOS.
Once the backup is stored on these platforms, they are essentially protected by the standards adopted by Google and Apple, respectively. While that s not exactly a bad thing, we’ve seen perpetrators hacking into a company s cloud service, and accessing personal data. ALSO READ: Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg