As of today, 5th April 2016, WhatsApp has introduced end-to-end encryption to all forms of communication on its service. The company has annouced in a blog post:
WhatsApp has always prioritized making your data and communication as secure as possible. And today, we’re proud to announce that we’ve completed a technological development that makes WhatsApp a leader in protecting your private communication: full end-to-end encryption. From now on when you and your contacts use the latest version of the app, every call you make, and every message, photo, video, file, and voice message you send, is end-to-end encrypted by default, including group chats.
If you are using the latest version of the app, you’ll probably notice the following:
So how does this encryption work, you may ask. According the WhatsApp:
The idea is simple: 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. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.
If you are using the latest version of WhatsApp, you don’t have to do anything to encrypt your messages. End-to-end encryption is on by default and all the time.
You can also verify, with your contacts, that your calls and messages are encrypted end-to-end using some verification code shown below:
Even though WhatsApp is now a very secure way of communicating, it is not the first. Personally, I (and my three paranoid friends) have been using Signal (by Whisper Systems) for our group chatting. Signal, which is recommended by Edward Snowden, has been using end-to-end encryption from the time it was released in July 2014. It was created for the sole purpose of private and secure communication.
Another messenger that uses end-to-end encryption is Telegram Messenger. However, with Telegram, end-to-end encryption is not on by default. To use end-to-end, you must use the app’s “secret chats” feaure. Otherwise, normal messages are encrypted using client-server/server-client encryption and are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud.
Want to learn more about internet encryption? Here is a good video.