Messaging service WhatsApp announced Tuesday it added end-to-end encryption, bolstering security in the wake of Apple’s fight with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over a locked iPhone.
In a statement posted on the service’s blog, Facebook-owned WhatsApp says all communications through the service will be encrypted, including text messages, photos, videos, files and voice messages. Encryption will also apply to group chats.
“No one can see inside that message,” reads an excerpt from WhatApp’s statement. “Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us.”
WhatsApp says encryption will be enabled by default.
Encryption is a tool to encode data so no one can read it unless you have a “key” to decode the information. Here’s how it works in WhatsApp: communications sent through WhatsApp are “locked” once the user sends the message. The message or other media are then unlocked by the recipient once they open it.
Most messaging apps offer encryption in transit, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Secure Messaging Scorecard, so messages are protected while they travel from the sender to the recipient. However, the end-to-end option used by WhatsApp means the keys to unlock encrypted rest with only the sender and recipient. Other apps including Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime do this.
Popular apps such as Kik, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger (also owned by Facebook) and Viber only encrypt in transit, according to EFF.
WhatsApp also threw its support behind Apple, which had been battling the FBI over an encrypted iPhone used by one of the killers in the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings. The FBI wanted Apple to bypass a feature where the iPhone would automatically wipe its data after several unsuccessful login attempts.
“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,” reads a statement from the messaging service.
Source Cowan: USA Today