Menu
WhatsApp turns on end-to-end encryption

WhatsApp turns on end-to-end encryption

Messages sent with the popular app may be much harder for law enforcement to access now

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has strengthened the encryption of its widely used instant messaging app, a development that in theory makes it harder for law enforcement to gain access to communications.

WhatsApp's founders said Tuesday that the application now implements end-to-end encryption, which means only authorized users can decrypt messages.

"The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to," Jan Koum and Brian Acton wrote in a blog post. "No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us."

The move by WhatsApp comes after fierce debate over the increasing use of encryption and how it affects law enforcement investigations. WhatsApp said in February it had 1 billion users.

In February, a federal magistrate judge ordered Apple to create a special version of its mobile operating system that would help the FBI get into a phone used by one of the San Bernardino mass shooters. Apple objected, setting off a widespread debate.

The order was vacated after the FBI said it had found a way to unlock the phone with the help of a third party. But there are several similar cases outstanding.

Devices using WhatsApp hold the encryption and decryption keys to messages sent over the service. That means law enforcement could not go to WhatsApp or another service provider to obtain the keys.

Alternatively, law enforcement could get access to WhatsApp messages if a suspect divulged their phone's passcode or the passcode could be obtained another way.

It is also possible that a software vulnerability in the app could allow law enforcement access. Experts believe that may have been how the FBI unlocked the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.

WhatsApp's encryption uses an open-source protocol called Signal, which is also used in an encrypted messaging app of the same name, according to a technical white paper published on Tuesday. Signal was developed by Open Whisper Systems.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags appsWhatsApp

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments