For the last couple of days, you may have noticed that Whatsapp has been showing a notification that “Messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info.” Yes, the popular chatting and calling app has now introduced end to end encryption which means all of your text messages, pictures and even calls are now encrypted. Meaning they cannot be hacked into and read, even by Whatsapp!
This does provide an extra layer of security for general users, especially in a society where big brother techniques of the government is looming larger. According to Whatsapp co-founder Jan Koum, they were working on this feature for two years and it has finally been rolled out. All the chats are by default encrypted from now on. A white paper was published explaining the encryption in detail.
The feature is available for both Android and iOS devices. Both parties in a chat, however, have to have the latest version of Whatsapp to enjoy end to end encryption. The encryption is done via The Signal Protocol which is developed by Open Whisper Systems. It uses a message key which is changed for every message. The message key is generated using AES256 in CBC mode and the verification is done via HMAC-SHA256. The whitepaper explain that there could be a delay in delivering messages due to this encryption.
Jan Koum wrote on his Facebook page, We’ve been working for the past two years to give people better security over their conversations on WhatsApp… People deserve security. It makes it possible for us to connect with our loved ones. It gives us the confidence to speak our minds. It allows us to communicate sensitive information with colleagues, friends, and others. We’re glad to do our part in keeping people’s information out of the hands of hackers and cyber-criminals.”