WhatsApp stormed the world yesterday by announcing that it has migrated its chat backend system to enable chat with end-to-end encryption. This will ensure your text, photos, videos sent over WhatsApp can’t be read by anyone else, not WhatsApp and not your government agencies.
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.
WhatsApp has been working to bring end-to-end encryption to its 1 billion users for over two years. It even release a whitepaper explaining the technical details. The encryption is enabled by default and requires you and your friends are on the latest version of the WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is not the first chat app with end-to-end encryption. Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime is designed with encryption in mind, and has been in use since iOS 5 in October 2011. Telegram is the other popular chat app that has end-to-end encryption, but user has to manually start a secret chat to enable the encryption.
Chat apps such as SnapChat, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, WeChat and Skype will encrypt the message during transit to their respective backend servers but is not employing end-to-end encryption. Your messages are not protected by design using these chat apps.