Following the heated Apple vs FBI debate (that seems to have a surprising ending), WhatsApp knew it had to be ready to face the federal government. The 50-odd employee company based in Mountain View, California, serves WhatsApp messenger to one billion people around the world, making it the second largest messaging platform after Facebook Messenger (Facebook, in fact, owns WhatsApp!). Today, the company updated its service with end-to-end encryption, making it impossible for hackers, government agents and WhatsApp itself to access its users’ chats.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end chat and call encryption is done under a collaboration with Open Whisper Systems. Wired reports that the founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, worked with cryptographer who goes by the pseudonym 'Moxie Marlinspike’ of Open Whisper Systems to enable end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp. This model works on all WhatsApp clients irrespective of platform - be it Android, iOS, Windows Phone or even Nokia Symbian - by using an encrypted connection and special 80-bit generated keys to send every single message.
In a post on WhatsApp’s blog, Jan and Brian say, "We live in a world where more of our data is digitized than ever before. Every day we see stories about sensitive records being improperly accessed or stolen. And if nothing is done, more of people's digital information and communication will be vulnerable to attack in the years to come. Fortunately, end-to-end encryption protects us from these vulnerabilities.” Talking about the government’s involvement in tracking user activity, the founders say, "While we recognize the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people's information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states."
WhatsApp is now one step ahead in terms of its users’ security and privacy and the company is definitely proud of it. Will other messaging platforms follow WhatsApp in improving user privacy? I hope so. For now though, one billion people's conversations are safe from threats.
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WhatsApp Blog: https://blog.whatsapp.com/10000618/end-to-end-encryption
WhatsApp Security: https://www.whatsapp.com/security/