End-to-end encryption – what is it and how does it work?

You’ve probably heard and seen the news about Whatsapp embedding end-to-end encryption in to their app. So what

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You’ve probably heard and seen the news about Whatsapp embedding end-to-end encryption in to their app. So what exactly is end-to-end encryption and how does it work? How will it affect you if you have Whatsapp? This blog will explain and answer all the questions you may ask about the new feature.

What is end-to-end encryption?

The best way to describe it is that only you and the recipient can view messages exchanged between each other. Third parties such as Whatsapp can’t even read what you are sending as there is a security encryption which locks them and everyone else out of the conversation. It is said that it is to stop letting things ‘fall in to the wrong hands’.

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If you see this message on your Whatsapp chat, this means that your conversations are fully protected by end-to-end encryption.

Why is end-to-end encryption being used?

More devices are now prone to becoming hacked which exposes all your personal data, conversations and other private things to a complete stranger, and they can use it to commit crimes such as fraud. With end-to-end encryption, you and the recipient(s) have a special key which will give you access to the lock on your conversation. This means nobody else can ever get in to your conversation because you have the key.

Who can see my conversations?

As explained above, only you and the recipient(s) have the key. It’s a new way of keeping your data completely secure. Whatsapp used to be able to view your conversations whilst it was being sent from once device to another which make it an easier target for hacking. With your data now being secure, the government, the police, Whatsapp and everybody else is completely locked out of your conversation.

Why are people against end-to-end encryption?

It’s a hard topic to discuss because it has its positives but it can come with severe disadvantages. The obvious advantage is that it makes it even harder for hackers to get in to the data you send and receive to and from others, but is it too secure?

Since the Westminster attack happened this year, its been confirmed that the attacker had sent a Whatsapp message to someone moments before he killed and injured a great amount of people. In this case, it comes as a massive disadvantage because what he said to another person can be the main clue to who else knew about the attack before it happened; but this is the problem, with end-to-end encryption nobody can see what he has said which is why the police force and Whatsapp have been trying their hardest to make a solution to getting access to the conversation.

How do I enable and disable it on Whatsapp?

You cannot disable end-to-end encryption the app because it is part of their latest update. If you do not have their latest update downloaded on to your device, then obviously your conversations won’t be protected. If you do have the update then it will automatically be on the app and there is no on or off switch for it.

 

You can find out more about end-to-end encryption here