Facebook's WhatsApp Activates End-to-End Ecryption


Editor in Chief
Staff member
Jan 5, 2011

After the FBI vs Apple debacle of the last few weeks, most of the major tech companies have vowed to improve the security of their products. The backlash over the DOJ's overreach of power has inspired companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to add or strengthen encryption on their devices. Facebook has already moved forward with this more secure initiative by activating end-to-end encryption in their WhatsApp instant messaging app.

To be clear, WhatsApp (which was acquired by Facebook not too long ago) was probably already working on this before the "crap hit the fan" with the FBI and Apple tussle; however, the debate likely spurred them to make it a greater priority to crank out the security feature faster. WhatsApp now uses Signal for its encryption method. This is an open source encryption used in the encrypted messaging app with the same name.

WhatsApp developers, Jan Koum and Brian Acton wrote in a blog post. "The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us."

That means that consumer's devices using WhatsApp have both the encryption and decryption keys for any messages sent over the service, and law enforcement will not be able to ask WhatsApp or another service provider to obtain these keys.

It's possible that law enforcement could crack the software if they could find software vulnerabilities (as the FBI likely did with the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone). Also if a suspect were to share the phone's passcode, or if the passcode was obtained another way, then law enforcement could gain access.

It seems like the FBI has inadvertently forced companies into making more secure technology. Sound off and let us know what you think of that.