WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption: Good news for consumers, bad news for hackers

The new security measure is available on the latest version of the app

Encryption is not a sexy topic but it is one of the words of 2016 so far. In recent weeks the Apple vs FBI case has placed this issue at the front of everyone's mind and now WhatsApp are putting it into the headlines once again.

The messaging service, owned by Facebook, has now fully implemented strong end-to-end encryption on its platform. This means that anyone running the latest versions of the app will have their messages fully encrypted as standard. 

WhatsApp has more than one billion active users and the protection of the communications passed within its framework is an extremely important step. 

What does this mean?

Messages sent via WhatsApp will not be stored in plaintext on servers. The company is unable to decrypt messages as it doesn't hold the encryption keys. This means the company would be unable to handover user data if it were to find itself in a similar position to that of Apple in recent weeks. This is great news for consumers and yet another headache for authorities. 

All users must be using the latest version of WhatsApp to ensure the messages are fully encrypted. Those with the new version may notice a message appearing in their chats, informing them of the new changes.

The founders of WhatsApp wrote a blog to explain the importance of this update. 

"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. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation."