WhatsApp finally supports encrypted messaging, thanks to the latest update of the iOS version of the popular chat app.This significantly increases the security of the billions of messages sent every day using the app.
Although it’s unclear what type of encryption is being used, secure messaging has been announced in the change log of version 2.8.3 of WhatsApp for iOS. It’s unclear when this important change will be added to other versions of the chat application.
Was WhatsApp unsecure up until now? Why?
Until now, when you sent a message with WhatsApp, anyone with the necessary tools and access to your local network could read your WhatsApp messages, using software such as WhatsAppSniffer.
This was because WhatsApp was using a version of the messaging protocol XMPP without any encryption. Not even the database containing your message history was encrypted.
The data, which traveled openly through the internet, could be captured with any sniffer, although it was much easier over Wi-Fi networks (GSM networks are much harder to sniff through).
From now on (if we trust what the developer states in WhatsApp’s change log), sniffing to intercept messages is no longer possible. Or, at least, not with the current tools.
Security advice for WhatsApp users
Encryption or not, there are some simple measures you can take to make sure that you’re secure when using WhatsApp:
- Avoid sending confidential or sensitive messages through public/shared WiFi networks
- Update WhatsApp to the latest version as soon as you can
- Regularly delete your messaging history in WhatsApp