Earlier today WhatsApp did something pretty interesting. They turned on “end-to-end encryption” for all their users.
As far as users of WhatsApp are concerned the interface and user experience hasn’t changed, though you now have the option to get “security notifications”. You can turn on this new feature via the WhatsApp mobile app by going to:
Settings -> Account -> Security
and simply enabling it.
So what does this actually mean for users? The WhatsApp team explain it using very simple language:
The idea is simple: 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 cybercriminals. 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.
Up until a couple of years ago “encryption” was something that only hardcore geeks really cared about, but more recently it’s been making headline news around the world. The recent debacle around Apple and the FBI is just one of many spates where encryption has come to the fore.
- After Apple, WhatsApp Under Fire from US Govt Over Encryption (thehackernews.com)
- Good News For Now: Court Postpones Hearing in Apple v. FBI (eff.org)