For the keen-eyed chatters around, you would have noticed that your favourite go-to-group-chat messenger app has a new feature.
End-to-end encryption, is what it’s called and it exists to bolster user privacy. The activation has been pushed out to every single WhatsApp user that’s running the latest WhatsApp update.
“The idea is simple…” wrote WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum, in a blog post, “…when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us.”
With the FBI and Apple going at it over the past few weeks, relationships between governments, security agencies and the technology industry has been brought to the forefront.
“While we recognise the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people’s information to abuse,” WhatsApp’s blog post said.
What’s it all about
The feature, which is simply an open-source private messaging system, allows users to see the messages and content sent between chats, but blocks out service providers such as WhatsApp themselves to access the content.
Allow WhatsApp to explain further, “Your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read your message. For added protection, every message you send has a unique lock and key. All of this happens automatically: no need to turn on settings or set up special secret chats to secure your messages.
If you’re chat isn’t encrypted, chances are the participants haven’t updated their app to the latest version. A WhatsApp blog post points out: “Once all parties in a group, or the person you’re messaging in an individual chat, have updated to the latest version of WhatsApp, a small indicator will appear in the chat informing you that the messages in your chat are end-to-end encrypted.”