Whatsapp Encryption

WhatsApp is indeed working on giving its user base peace of mind. The latest build of WhatsApp for Android v2.12.500 comes with a number of features including showing users whether their messages are end-to-end encrypted, and it is also finally collapsing long messages.

The extremely popular instant messaging client was seemingly testing an option in January which allowed users to add an indicator to let them be aware whether their chats are encrypted. While indicator isn’t precisely the same, the latest build of the messaging client, available to download via the company’s site and the Google Play beta testing program, does bestow users with the following message, “messages you send to this chat are now end-to-end encrypted.”Whatsapp Encryption

Additionally, users are also shown a similar message when sending a text message to a group. The feature is also working for users on versions between 2.12.493 and 2.12.500. For it to work, people on the recipient side are also likely to be on the latest build. WhatsApp’s iOS client doesn’t have this feature just yet.

What exactly the encryption is?

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is available when a user and the person he/she messages to is using the latest version of the app. According to WhatsApp, “Many messaging apps only encrypt messages between you and them, but WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. This is because your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read them. For added protection, every message you send has its own unique lock and key.”

How can I activate this feature?

You no need to turn on settings or set up special secret chats to secure your messages. All of this happens automatically.

Dose this include WhatsApp calling too?

Yes, just like messages, WhatsApp calls also are encrypted end-to-end. This means that WhatsApp and third parties can’t listen to them.

What about Groups?

Group chats will not get the encryption feature till even one of the group members is on an older version of WhatsApp.

What about my Data (media)?

All your data which includes video, audio, images and files are also encrypted end-to-end.

How do I know if my messages/calls are encrypted?

WhatsApp lets you check whether the calls you make and messages you send are end-to-end encrypted. Users have the option to verify after tapping on the message that reads the conversation is “Messages that you send to this chat and cals are now secured with end-to-end encryption.” The user can then view a QR code and a 60-digit number. You can also scan your QR code or compare the 60-digit number with the person you are chatting with.

To verify that a chat is end-to-end encrypted

  1. Open the chat.
  2. Tap on the name of the contact or group to open the contact info/group info screen.
  3. Tap Encryption to view the QR code and 60-digit number.

If you and your contact are physically next to each other, one of you can scan the other’s QR code or visually compare the 60-digit number. If you scan the QR code, and the code is indeed the same, a green checkmark will appear. Since they match, you can be sure no one is intercepting your messages or calls.

If the codes do not match, it’s likely you’re scanning the code of a different contact, or a different phone number. If your contact has recently reinstalled WhatsApp, or switched devices, we recommend you refresh the code by sending them a new message and then scanning the code.

How is WhatsApp doing this?

WhatsApp is using ‘The Signal Protocol’, designed by Open Whisper Systems, for its encryption. The company claims that the protocol has been specifically developed to keep third-parties like cyber criminals and government officials away from private communication.

Will it not hurt security agencies?

The encryption is sure to make task tougher for law enforcement and investigative agencies across the world as well as in India. According to media reports, the security agencies will be taking up the matter with the Telecom ministry to ensure that proper safeguards are in place before the services could be allowed in the country.Whatsapp Encryption

WhatsApp now automatically collapses a message when it’s too long. It’s an interesting inclusion because it could make things look less cluttered, and it could also make it easier for you to check the following messages without scrolling through a string of too many characters. Additionally, it could also help WhatsApp circumvent glitches that make WhatsApp crash when somebody sends a message with more than a few thousand emoticons.

Facebook-owned instant message and voice client also seems to be working on bringing some tweaks to its user interface. One change is the inclusion of an Exit group icon, a feature that has been pulled from build 2.12.500. The other addition is an option called Starred messages, that lets you scroll through all the messages you’ve starred in one place.

The highlight is certainly the end-to-end encryption message. To recall, in 2014, WhatsApp had partnered with Open Whisper Systems, a non-profit software group that develops collaborative open source projects to scramble messages with a cryptographic key to bolster privacy. In the same year, Open Whisper Systems noted that the end-to-end encryption had been implemented on WhatsApp’s Android client.

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