Have you ever worried about the possibility of the messages you share with family and friends on WhatsApp winding up in the wrong hands? Well, according to the world’s most populous instant messaging service, there is no longer a need to worry.
Coming on the heels of the tussle between tech giant, Apple, and the US government, WhatsApp recently announced full end-to-end encryption for all users. What that means is that all communication via WhatsApp, including text messages, phone calls, photos, videos, and voice notes, will only be visible to the intended recipient. This is expected to provide some level of comfort to people who often share sensitive or risque content, especially in light of the fact that nothing is ever truly deleted off the internet.
This takes on added significance since the FBI recently tried to get Apple to unlock the iPhone of a deviant user but was denied due to privacy and security concerns.
The new security feature is available to WhatsApp’s more than 1 billion users, whether they are using an iPhone, Android device, or any other mobile platform. With the Facebook-owned WhatsApp being one of the most used messaging services worldwide, this new layer of security, makes it possibly one of the most secure, since not even WhatsApp employees can access data sent between users.
How to Know Your WhatsApp Data is Encrypted
Not all users have end-to-end encryption just yet but this is not because it’s not available to everyone.
To have full end-to-end encryption, you and your recipients(s) will need to have the latest version of WhatsApp installed. Once you have the latest update, you can easily find out which of your individual contacts or groups also have full encryption.
You can find out in a few simple steps:
- Open WhatsApp
- Select a contact or group to view your chat with them
- Tap to open their profile information screen
- Under ‘Encryption’ you will see a short message, along with a closed or open padlock icon
- This message will tell you if messages sent to that contact or group is encrypted or not
If you’re standing beside one of your contacts and want to verify that messages shared between both of you are in fact encrypted, you or your friend can tap on the ‘Encryption’ message, which will bring up a special QR code to scan. When either of you scans the QR code, you will get a green checkmark once the QR code is the same for both of you, meaning you are both protected with end-to-end encryption.
In the event that the QR codes don’t match, there are several possibilities; either the contact is using a different telephone number than the one you have stored, or you’re scanning the QR code for another contact. Additionally, if either of you recently re-installed WhatsApp or switched devices, you will need to share a message before attempting to rescan the QR code.
What this Means for Businesses
If you’re running a business and you regularly advertise to fans or offer customer service using WhatsApp, this added security feature could result in potential clients feeling more comfortable about communicating with you. It could also mean people trusting WhatsApp over other social platforms to initiate business deals or prospects but time will tell.
Full encryption on WhatsApp means that it is less likely for hackers or the government to gain access to any content shared between users, whether individuals or groups. Of course, there is still a risk of people with access to your device, being able to open WhatsApp and read your messages, especially if there is no password protection. So, be aware that you still need to be vigilant in protecting your devices from unauthorized users.