WhatsApp – Encrypting Messages For all Users
WhatsApp, the instant messaging service, is intending to reassure its users regarding their privacy by encrypting messages sent through its app. Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum, in his blog post had mentioned recently that every conversation on the messaging service irrespective of it being a private or group chat would have complete end-to-end encryption, making the recipient the only individual who can view the message. Koum writes in his blog on the WhatsApp website that `no one can see inside the message, neither cybercriminals, nor hackers nor oppressive regimes and not even us’.
He adds that end-to-end encryption tends to help in making communication through WhatsApp private, a kind of face-to-face conversation. The WhatsApp website has explained that end-to-end encryption tends to work by securing messages with a lock that only the recipient together with the sender are capable of unlocking and read with a special key. For additional protection, each message sent has its own unique lock and key which happens automatically and even WhatsApp cannot read any of the messages. This announcement of WhatsApp comes in the wake of one of the most high profile clashes in argument regarding encryption together with data privacy between the government and a technology company.
Depends on Signal Protocol
The App’s users are not only protected by encryption but it is a strong encryption. In a technical white paper released on April 4, the underlying cryptographic exchange has been described in details by WhatsApp, which tends to take place when users message each other. It depends on the Signal Protocol that has been created at Open Whisper Systems and uses double ratcheting in providing forward secrecy even when the session keys are compromised which means that if a rival is capable of uncovering the cryptographic keys used by the app, it will not compromise communications that are made with contacts in the past and will remain protected.
Strong and well-vetted cryptographic building blocks are used by The Signal Protocol for constructing and transmitting messages inclusive of ECDH utilising Curve25519. Besides the service’s strong end-to-end provisions, all the communication between the client apps together with the WhatsApp server have been encrypted utilising Noise Pipes from the Noise Protocol Framework.
WhatsApp – Over One Billion Users Globally
The FBI had asked Apple in February, to unlock one of the iPhones of San Bernardino shooters so that the authorities could access his data. Apple had refused asserting a breach of privacy and the FBI had taken Apple to court though eventually they were able to unlock the phone without the help of Apple and the suit was dropped.
However, the case stirred national debate over whether it would set a pattern for authorities in the future to unlock other phones and the question of privacy. Koum wrote that for him it was personal and he had grown up in the USSR during Communist rule and the fact that people could not speak freely was one of the reasons his family had moved to the United States. Messaging service of WhatsApp had been purchased by Facebook for an amount of $19 billion in 2014 and accounts for over one billion users globally.