This entry was posted on April 19, 2016.
WhatsApp’s new end-to-end encryption service is here! If you’re a WhatsApp user, you definitely saw the yellow message that randomly popped up in the middle of your chat box. This message refers to the new end-to-end encryption service that is being used in the newest version of the popular messaging service. So what exactly does this mean for us and our beloved messenger?
Simply put: From now on, your messages are only sent and readable between you and your messaging partner. No more intelligence agencies, no more hackers, not even WhatsApp and their Facebook owners. Over the past six months, the development team over at WhatsApp had been developing this new security feature. A new type of software called TextSecure from the non-profit organisation “Open Whisper Systems” is being use in order to allow for this feature to be possible. So not only will your messages be protected from spying eyes, but also all your photos, videos, voice messages and calls.
Really, you don’t need to. The new service has been automatically activated, so you really don’t have to do anything anymore. However, one thing you have to pay attention to is that the new service will only be active once all members within the chat have updated their app to the latest version. This is often difficult in large group chats if some users have not yet downloaded the latest version. In addition, you can easily control and see if the new WhatsApp encryption service is already active in the chat or not. Simply click on the name of the person or group and select “Encryption”. Follow the steps there to see if your chat is truly secure! You and your friend just have to compare QR-Codes or security numbers and see if the service works.
TextSecure is at this moment the safest way to encrypt communication. To decrypt or decipher the message, a key is utilised, which is solely found on each user’s smartphone and cannot be stolen. Therefore it’s not possible for hackers to read your messages at all. Experts are saying that the new WhatsApp’s new encryption service is the biggest and safest feature that has ever been released. However, there is one downside to this entire feature: messages and documents can no longer be scanned by mobile anti-viruses. Incautious users could click on unsafe and virus filled websites that could infect their phone.
Additionally, the new encryption service doesn’t protect the user from phishing hacks. So what would an example for that be like? Well perhaps you know WhatsApp web – the desktop variation of WhatsApp – that you can access on Google Chrome. The website shows you a QR-Code that you can scan with your phone. Once the code has been scanned, you can begin chatting from your desktop screen. Really practical, right? Well unfortunately, hackers abuse this feature in order to steal WhatsApp user accounts. On sketchy websites, these fake QR-Codes are posted that claim to be a code for WhatsApp web, however once they are scanned, the hacker is able to read all of your messages and send off his own messages to your contacts.
Technically, end-to-end encryption really is the safest method to protect your data. It’s particularly convenient that us users no longer have to do anything. However, there are of course still small safety concerns. So when you’re interacting with links or documents on WhatsApp, always keep one eye open!