WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, made the announcement yesterday that all of its 1 billion users’ interactions, whether it’s sending text messages, photos, videos, or even making calls are now encrypted. This is made possible through its end-to-end encryption technology, which scrambles messages when they are sent and can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device only. What this means is if a third party intercepts a message, say criminals or law enforcement authorities, it will be indecipherable and as such render them unreadable.
In effect, what WhatsApp has done is placing a lock on its messaging platform and then tossing the key away, so that even WhatsApp itself cannot access your communications. By taking this measure, the company is no longer held liable to comply with a court order from any government agency demanding private information on someone they deem as a suspect.
WhatsApp founder Jan Koum sums this up well in his blog post, “End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.”
Security experts are singing praises on this new development by WhatsApp as well. ”Consumers are increasingly aware of security and privacy issues,” security expert, Eric Jacksch, told IT in Canada, “and that is translating into demand for more secure products. End-to-end encryption is the only effective way to ensure that communications remain private. WhatsApp is one of the most popular IM clients in the world, and end-to-end encryption makes their product better.”
Are you a WhatsApp user? If not, now is a good time to consider jumping onto the platform to keep your conversations private.
WhatsApp is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.
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