In spite of so many instant messengers stepping in to compete with Whatsapp, the messaging giant has remain unbeatable and all thanks to the powerful features that it offers, and nobody else does. Once again, Whatsapp has given its users a reason to give space in their mobile and this time it is the end-to-end encryption (E2EE) that the messenger has come up with in its latest update.
End-to-End Encryption: What exactly it is?
In simple words, end-to-end encryption can be described as a communication mode where only the people communicating are liable to read the messages, and no one else. This means, there are no chances of any third party or eavesdropper having access to cryptographic keys to decrypt the data. Some malicious third parties in the list are the telecom and internet providers.
The End-to-End Encryption in Whatsapp!
With the latest version of Whatsapp (v 2.12.556), the users now can avail the facility of end-to-end encryption using which they can protect their messages, voice messages, videos, call, and shared documents from their un-consensual use.
Enabling E2EE will ensure that only you and the other person involved in communication is able to read the messages and no one else can, not even Whatsapp. This means, the only people who have the key to unlock the messages is you and the recipient. And yes, to add to it, for every message, a unique lock as well as a key gets created.
Both Ends Need Latest Version of Whatsapp
By default, the E2EE facility is activated and the option to get started with it will be visible to the users on opening the chat with a particular Whatsapp contact. However, to get started, you and your Whatsapp contact must have the latest version of the application installed.
The Guide to Getting Started!
When latest version of the app is opened, the option to encrypt will be visible on opening the chat with a specific person or group. The option says “Messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info”.
When you tap on this option, you will be provided with basic information about the end to end encryption and its benefits. To activate it, click on the “Verify” button.
By doing so, you will be landed to the “Verify Security Code” module where the users will be presented with a 60-digit number and a QR code.
“The code is unique to every chat and is scanned against every contact for the verification purpose, ensuring that the messages exchanged between both the parties are encrypted.”
To start scanning, click on the “Scan Code” link at the bottom of the module. You have to scan the code on selected contact’s phone. Once the QR code is scanned and matches with that of the selected contact, the messaging that happens thereafter will be protected with E2EE encryption.
Scanning the code against the contact’s option is possible if the person and his phone is next to you. In the contrary situation, you can share the 60 Digit code using email, Whatsapp, SMS, or any other available options.
Messages Not Encrypted: Possible Reasons
- To get started, both the parties at the other end must have updated version of the app
- Make sure that the code is scanned against the same contact
- If there is a group and one out of five people in the group do not have encryption enabled, then no message in the group will be encrypted.
The Cons and Pros: The Final Verdict!
Although the E2EE is enabled by default, the messages will start encrypting only when the you verify it. However, the not so good thing about this feature is you cannot disable it.
While on one end it has opened up way to stringent security, giving many a sigh of relief by protecting the personal and professional communication, it has made it difficult to intercept the messages as they travel between the devices, preventing the government from accessing the users’ information for critical cases.
With some mixed reactions on the all new end-to-end encryption feature in Whatsapp, its usability and acceptability in the later time will better explain the feature credibility.