The growing question in today’s highly digital world is one of cyber-security.One of the best outcomes of using the Internet is anonymity.However with the rising technology the long loved anonymity and privacy in general is coming at an increased price.The answer to this is encryption and this is also what has got Apple in hot waters with the FBI.The Apple-FBI case is still raging on and the latest updates say that Tim Cook is still rigidly denying FBI access to the files.
That being said one of the most popular messaging services in the world has recently adopted end to end encryption of messages,the app being Whatsapp.This adds to the worries of “National Security” for the governments of countries.The encryption is for photos , images , videos , text of billions of users across the globe from the point of transmission to reception.
If the two parties using whatsapp are both on the latest versions of the application , their messages are automatically end to end encrypted using a 256 bit algorithm.The magnitude of the algorithm used is such that apart from the sender and recipient, a third party, Whatsapp or anyone in general can’t snoop in on the conversation! Yeah! 😀
Whatsapp’s encryption uses whats called a public encyption key.This can be explained in a simple way.If we suppose we have two users A and B.Normally without encryption user A’s message to B will go via the Whatsapp server. However with the encryption the User A will request for a public key from the WhatsApp server which also applies to B in the form a private key. Thus the message from A will be encrypted using the public key and then sent to B via the whatsapp server and on the recipient side the message will be decrypted using the private key to retrieve the original message.
The best part of the end to end encryption that whatsapp uses which makes it different from other messaging services is that many in general encrypt messages between the user and them but not end to end.Another added feature is that not only texts but photos, videos, documents basically everything that can be shared between two parties in whatsapp is currently encrypted and grants you the highest degree of protection there is!
How does WhatsApp Encryption affect us as Users?
As already mentioned several times in the article if ever you wonder or are worried about where and how your messages are actually going from point A and B, encryption aims at removing that. No one including the government, hackers or cyber criminals can get their hands on your data. With no backdoor available to decrypt the data. The app makers only have the timestamps and metadata on the messages with no means to decrypt the messages, because the key is only with the end user. Also Whatsapp has made it loud and clear that no requests from government would be entertained.
With this much wanted server side update it looks like the citizens of the free world are winning the battle over online privacy and security but,with the power governments have and the dangerously clever minds that hackers and cyber-criminals have who can say what new gimmick they might be planning ?