WhatsApp User Chats Now Feature Default End-to-End Encryption

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2016-04-06 Print this article Print
WhatsApp, messaging, SMS, encryption, FBI, terrorism, WhatsApp Messenger, end-to-end encryption, privacy, security

WhatsApp users will initially see plain text messages (pictured) on their device screens when using the app to notify them that their communications are being encrypted by default, according to Open Whisper. "Starting today, users will see a notice in their conversation screen as their individual and group chats become end to end encrypted. Additionally, the encryption status of any chat is visible under that chat's preferences screen."

By default, WhatsApp users have the option to verify the authenticity of their encrypted sessions by scanning a QR code or by reading a string aloud, the company added. "Over a billion monthly active users across the world are now using the Signal Protocol for end to end encryption. Over the next year, we will continue to work with additional messengers to amplify the impact and scope of private communication even further."

In March, WhatsApp began adding document sharing capabilities for users, according to an earlier eWEEK story. To start, only PDF documents are sharable, but other document types will be sharable in the future.

WhatsApp recently turned 7 years old and announced that it had logged its 1 billionth user.

In February, the company announced that it will end support for the BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Android 2.2 and 2.1, and Windows Phone 7.1 mobile operating systems by the end of 2016 as the user bases for the platforms have continued to shrink.

That move comes as consumers have flocked instead to the latest versions of Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems on the majority of mobile devices in the marketplace, according to a recent eWEEK story. When WhatsApp began in 2009, about 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia, while mobile OSes offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft—which account for 99.5 percent of sales today—were on less than 25 percent of mobile devices sold back then.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., WhatsApp launched in 2009 and was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for about $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in stock. WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows users to exchange messages without having to pay separately for SMS.



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