WhatsApp adds encryption features to billions of text messages


Good news for WhatsApp users. Facebook-owned WhatsApp, the most popular messaging platform has added end-to-end encryption feature to billions of messages sent by its half-billion users every day, making it nearly impossible for anyone to read users’ messages. The strong encryption here means that even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself can’t spy on your communications, even if asked by government agencies.

The security boost comes after WhatsApp partnered with Open Whisper Systems, the developer of the TextSecure encrypted messaging app, to incorporate strong end-to-end encryption on all text messages. The new feature is currently only available to messages sent via the Android version of WhatsApp and only supports one-on-one text messaging but Open Whisper Systems co-founder Moxie Marlinspike said that support for group chat, media messages and other mobile platforms will be added very soon.

Systems that implement end-to-end encryption are hard to crack because the code for decryption is only stored on users’ devices. In earlier versions of WhatsApp, those codes were stored on servers as well as users’ phones, giving Facebook or WhatsApp admins a chance to pry into communications.

The TextSecure technology is particularly strong as it uses an interesting technique called Forward Secrecy which generates a fresh code for every message sent. That means if eavesdroppers crack the code on one message, it would be difficult for them to crack the code for each additional message to unscramble an entire conversation.

The only encrypted messaging service that can be compared on such a massive scale is Apple’s iMessage, which has a major disadvantage, in that many users backup messages to Apple’s iCloud service, which doesn’t offer any end-to-end encryption feature.

Google released an extension for Chrome back in June that would provide this kind of encryption on some messages. Marlinspike and his colleagues are planning to develop versions of TextSecure that support WhatsApp apps on other smartphone operating systems.

Via: Android Police