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WhatsApp Adds End-To-End Encryption For All Its Users' Communications

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WhatsApp, one of the largest and most popular messaging app currently in the world, decided to give its 1 billion+ users the gift of end-to-end encryption recently. People using the latest WhatsApp version in India were greeted to an intimation about the same from WhatsApp in a light yellow background yesterday morning. So, while many of you might have ended up ignoring the message and got back on your messaging spree, here's a quick rundown of what exactly it is and how does this new step from WhatsApp affect you.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum announced the update on his Facebook page, stating that the company has been working on the feature for the last two years.

Koum wrote, "We’ve been working for the past two years to give people better security over their conversations on WhatsApp... People deserve security. It makes it possible for us to connect with our loved ones. It gives us the confidence to speak our minds. It allows us to communicate sensitive information with colleagues, friends, and others. We’re glad to do our part in keeping people’s information out of the hands of hackers and cyber-criminals."

For people struggling with what end-to-end encryption means, here's the answer.

End-to-end encryption is actually a secure communication method where only the people communicating have access to messages sent and received. This means, every message, photo, video, file and WhatsApp call made through the latest WhatsApp version is absolutely safe and secure from telecoms and Internet providers, cyber-criminals and hackers, or even the respective governments of the countries where the service is being used.

Further, even the company i.e. WhatsApp that has built and runs the service will also not have access to your WhatsApp content, and hence will not be able to pass it on to authorities who often request for these exchanges.

WhatsApp is using "The Signal Protocol", designed by Open Whisper Systems, for its encryption.

It is interesting to note that WhatsApp had earlier encrypted its services partially. In November 2014, WhatsApp had already encrypted its text messages but it decided to spend the last two years working on rolling out this end-to-end encryption across every single platform on which the service is available and for all communications types.

So, how does this affect you as a WhatsApp user?

Well, as a regular user, it doesn't affect you that much. It just means that it becomes all the more difficult for WhatsApp to provide copies of any of your WhatsApp communications to any law enforcement or other governmental authorities even when requested by a warrant.

While users are happy that they can now carry on with their conversations without the fear of someone reading it, some industry experts believe that the metadata could still be used for advertising purposes.

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