Facebook Learns from Apple, Starts End-to-End Encryption for WhatsApp

Header image source: whispersystems.org

After the drama and image damage done to Apple, Facebook Inc., owner of WhatsApp mobile messenger has launched its end-to-end encryption feature for the app.

That WhatsApp has not been put on the edge like Apple is perhaps a miracle. Its end-to-end feature is yet another icing on the cake for Facebook…

End-to-end encryption means WhatsApp’s server will not and cannot keep any of the messages, videos, audios and other contents exchange by its users. In technical terms, WhatsApp’s server will not store messaging data in plain text format. It will not have access to the decryption keys to unlock and hand over data to either the FBI or any legal request that compels it to do so.

Mark Zukerberg, CEO, Facebook Inc. Source: digitiser2000.com

WhatApp’s encryption project was said to have kick-started since 2013, the same year the Edward Snowden, NSA whistle-blower, was haunted for leaking in-depth details of America’s Internet surveillance program that made him sought refuge in Russia till date.

So how did WhatsApp pull this feat off? It is a public knowledge that WhatsApp had partnered with Open Whisper Systems whose Signal Protocol is the bedrock of the encryption technology. Open Whisper Systems announced on its website that “As of today, the integration is fully complete. Users running the most recent versions of WhatsApp on any platform now get full end to end encryption for every message they send and every WhatsApp call they make when communicating with each other. This includes all the benefits of the Signal Protocol — a modern, open source, forward secure, strong encryption protocol for asynchronous messaging systems, designed to make end-to-end encrypted messaging as seamless as possible.”

Brian Acton and Jan Koum, Founders, WhatsApp. Source: ibnlive.com

In case you are wondering what and what devices are supported, Whisper said “includes chats, group chats, attachments, voice notes, and voice calls across Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, Nokia S40, Nokia S60, Blackberry, and BB10.”

WhatsApp has about 1 billion users and that means it has about 25% of the total 4 billion global Internet audience. This position makes WhatsApp influential and as well, position as a target for government surveillance.

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TIm Cook, CEO, Apple. Source: technobuffalo.com

That WhatsApp has not been put on the edge like Apple is perhaps a miracle. Its end-to-end feature is yet another icing on the cake for Facebook to be on the safe side of the law even when this move will ruffle the global law enforcement agencies who would try and look for either a legal loophole or go ‘rogue’ like the FBI by typically ‘hacking’ contentious mobile and connected devices