Imagine this. You are chatting with our best friend on WhatsApp. You end up discussing a lot of confidential and private issues including your on-the-rocks marriage and office politics. The messages somehow end up in the wrong hands, and you land up in soup!
Well, if you are an Android user, this is highly impossible scenario going forward. WhatsApp – the immensely popular instant messaging application, just started up on a very powerful, brand new encryption program to protect its users’ confidential data and private chats from being hacked or snooped upon!
WhatsApp has over 600 million users across the globe, and the move will bring relief for many of its users who are worried about their data being misused. The company will do this by using the ‘TextSecure’ program developed by Open Whisper Systems (a non-profit organization that focuses on user privacy) to ensure that its users can communicate without worrying about unwanted surveillance. The end-to-end encryption was implemented for Android systems, and WhatsApp announced during the launch that the program will make it impossible for anyone to read or intercept users’ messages.
This is slated to be the largest ever encryption deployment and does not require the user to install or manually add a program on their devices. The change will, for all practical purposes, be invisible to the users as the program will now receive encrypted messages directly to their devices. Adding to this, WhatsApp is also gearing up to introduce another feature for its users in which they can now verify each other’s identities before starting to communicate. The TextSecure encryption is currently limited to WhatsApp’s Android users and doesn’t apply for group or photos/video messages. The same service for iOS and Apple will follow suit at a later date.
What this essentially means for the user is, that no one, not even WhatsApp (even when asked to do so under law enforcement) cannot intercept, snoop or hack into their communications without a decryption key. And WhatsApp would not have access to those keys, thereby making it a practically fool proof program! So now, what you talk to your friend, husband, boyfriend or a cousin, will be completely and undeniably only be between you and them! What a relief considering WhatsApp with its large user base can easily become a target for security hacks and information leakages.
Open Whispers, in a recent blog post, had this to say about the deployment: WhatsApp deserves enormous praise for devoting considerable time and effort to this project…Even though we’re still at the beginning of the rollout, we believe this already represents the largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted communication in history.
We think so too! Here’s to a lot more secure WhatsApping!