WhatsApp being the top messaging application comes under the obligation of catering to user needs. The latest of its input towards doing the same has emerged in the form of ‘end to end encryption’. Right from providing convenience to ensuring the security of users’ privacy, the application has been taking care of all big and small needs of the users. As cyberspace becomes the most invaded area of user privacy, WhatsApp plays it fair by offering a security feature that even it cannot break into.
WhatsApp End to End Encryption
Intercepting makes a private conversation readable to a third party. To prevent such practices, the provision of encryption has been made in the latest version of the popular, cross platform messaging application. Prioritizing security does not limit to encrypting the database but securing all possible entry points to it. Breaking into someone’s database is ONLY possible when in possession of the device or the DB (backed up somewhere else) but the same is not applicable to a conversation. A conversation can be intercepted without having to hack or crack into the database. Therefore, WhatsApp has introduced the new ‘end to end message encryption’.
What is Protected?
The encryption protects the following:
- Personal chats
- Group chats
- Shared media: images, videos, documents, & voice messages
NOTE: Your conversation with a contact is only encrypted when the other person is also using the latest version of WhatsApp.
No matter what measures are being taken, whether you are a cyber criminal, hacker, or belong to the WhatsApp authority itself, interception of an end-to-end conversation cannot be done. This is what makes the security fair enough!
Meanwhile, Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder expressed the encryption as a medium of freedom of expression by making the following statement:
How Does The Encryption Work?
WhatsApp now came up with the advance feature of user privacy – the end to end encryption. Here we are not talking about only conversations & media security but the WhatsApp encryption also encrypts group chats & calls.
According to the WhatsApp developers the encryption is already practiced in apple and google in the iOS and Android smartphones and yes it is the only way to provide user a secure space to share their personal belongings over social media.
How WhatsApp encryption works? Undermentioned steps will clear out that end to end encryption is enabled by default in the updated WhatsApp version you just read the steps and you will know more about the new WhatsApp encryption feature: –
- As soon as the facility gets updated a message will appear in the chat reading: ‘Messages you send to this chat and call are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info.’
- A popup on your screen appears explains about the encryption. For verifying working of the same, tap on ‘Verify’.
- The application will then take you to a page where you will be able to see a QR code along with a 60-digit string.
- Once you are there, you can tap on Scan Code to scan the QR code from the respective contact’s phone. As soon as the QR code is scanned and matched, the chat will automatically turn into a fully encrypted one. WhatsApp verifies the same by flashing a green tick in the area you earlier got the QR code.
NOTE: If by any chance, the code doesn’t match, you will receive a red colored EXCLAMATION mark instead of a green tick indicating that the conversation is not encrypted.
Why WhatsApp Encryption is illegal in India?
While WhatsApp is stepping towards a new era of user’s privacy, there are some laws and regulation which are questioning about this end to end encryption.
WhatsApp encryption for now is legal in India but not for so long. According to Indian Government IT laws you cannot use a 256-bit encryption in private services. But WhatsApp encryption is based on 256-bit encryption where there is no chance of decryption even not by the developers. And hence it creates major trouble for IT laws in India.
The IT law allow only 40-bit encryption for the private parties. Moreover, the private services can use 256-bit encryption as security purpose only when the decryption key is submitted to the government. And this is not possible because WhatsApp is not going to give decryption keys as they have enabled the end to end encryption by default & without any decryption.
For in case of any suspicious entity/terrorists/anti-government bodies, if government is tracking his/her conversation then the 256-bit encryption will not allow it. This perception of viewing WhatsApp end to end encryption is yes highly risky but the another perception where WhatsApp is trying to give a more secure platform to its user is also cannot be ignored.
Well for now the Indian government has not taken any steps against the Whatsapp end to end encryption feature but they may be after a while make this encryption feature illegal in India.
We can only Hope for the best till then.
Users who are yet to update their WhatsApp need to know that the once setup, there is no way the session can be undone or would require the user to rebuild it. However, in an uncertain case of unforeseen external events taking place like; the change of device / reinstallation of the messenger, a rebuild will be required. Rest assured, once secured, your conversations will never be exchanged in plain text resulting in no compromise of the privacy.