End to end user encryption coming to WhatsApp

WhatsApp is taking an important step for user privacy by applying the Open Whisper Systems’ encryption– the TextSecure protocol– used in its own apps like Signal.

End to End encryption means that in theory, WhatsApp will not be able to see what is being sent by its users. Only the people at the end of a conversation will be able to read it, so WhatsApp will not be able to hand over details of conversations to law enforcement agencies.

The rollout of the TextSecure protocol to WhatsApp will be incremental, according to Whisper Systems. The company has been working with WhatsApp for six months already, but it’s by far the biggest users base TextSecure has ever been applied to, so it’s a big job.

WhatsApp for Android now has end to end encryption for normal conversations, but not for group chat or media yet. This is coming next, and then Whisper Systems will begin rolling out encryption to other platforms (like iOS).

This is good news for Whatsapp users. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently published an overview of messaging apps and their security. WhatsApp only managed to confirm two out of seven of the EFF’s security criteria. With open TestSecure source encryption implemented, that should give it a much more respectable five out of seven.

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Source: Whisper Systems

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