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5 things you need to know about WhatsApp end-to-end encryption

India TV Tech Desk 06 Apr 2016, 18:57:32 IST
India TV Tech Desk

New Delhi: Messaging giant WhatsApp has implemented end-to-end encryption for its users which will potentially protect texts and voice calls for over one billion users from hackers. This step has been taken in the wake of the FBI vs Apple case. This indeed seems a bold move from the tech giant which has also introduced added privacy for its users. 

So here are some answers to the FAQs in this regard:

What does end to end encryption mean? Encryption is basically the process of encoding messages or information in a way that only enables an authorised group to read it. In WhatsApp, the only authorised group would be you and the person or any group you've sent the message to. The 'end-to-end' encryption ensures that no one other than you or your partner can read the messages even in the event of a data leak. This also means that even the workers at WhatsApp will never be able to decode your messages once you have encrypted your message.

How do you get this feature? WhatsApp is getting this feature through an update. In order to get this, Android users need to update their WhatsApp using the Play Store and the iOS users would need to update it using the App Store.

Steps to activate end-to-end encryption? You simply need to tap on the profile or the info page of your contact where you will find a section describing the status of the encryption of your chats and calls. You will get a message there which informs you that your messages have been encrypted. If you want to verify it, you will have to open a chat and click on the contact's name. Click on to 'Encryption' where you will see a QR code which can be scanned to verify if the chats are encrypted.

Also read: Your messages are now private, WhatsApp rolls out end-to-end encryption for users

Are there any loopholes? The terms and conditions by WhatsApp state: “WhatsApp may retain date and time stamp information associated with successfully delivered messages and the mobile phone numbers involved in the messages, as well as any other information which WhatsApp is legally compelled to collect.”  This means that even if the contents of the actual messages are encrypted and not stored on WhatsApp servers, it still has information like date, time and recipient numbers. This information can be made available by government request.

Is it useful? End-to-end encryption applies to everything that is available on WhatsApp. Be it calls, messages, photos, videos, files, and voice messages, every personal and group chat will be secured. So, nobody apart from you or your friend will be able to understand them. Technically, WhatsApp has indeed provided something really secure.