Facebook’s WhatsApp, the world’s most popular mobile messaging service is adding a default encryption feature for the messages sent by users, boosting efforts from technology companies to counter snooping by hackers and government spies and it is said to be largest encryption of this kind. WhatsApp is bringing end-to-end encryption via TextSecure, a software which scrambles messages with the device specific cryptographic key.
For this WhatsApp is working with Open Whisper Systems, a startup which works on encryption technologies. Open Whisper System on its blog revealed that it has teamed up with WhatsApp to encrypt the mobile messaging service for the past six months. But a WhatsApp representative denied to comment beyond confirming the encryption.
End-to-End encryption is very hard to break because the unscrambling keys are stored only on the user devices. But previously, WhatsApp encryption model stored keys on their servers, providing WhatsApp and Facebook administrators potential access to the user’ data. This new TextSecure encryption protocol uses forward secrecy, which means that fresh key is created for every new message.
WhatsApp Founder and CEO, Jan Koum, has emphasized the company’s commitment to privacy and wrote in the company blog that
[quote]Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp with the goal of knowing as little about you as possible.[/quote]
Google and Apple have gone a step further recently with their encryption, saying the new devices which use Android and iOS operating systems will automatically encrypt the data and make it impossible for the companies to access user data.
Open Whisper Systems founder, Moxie Marlinspike said in an interview that, “I do think this is the largest deployment of end-to-end text encryption ever”.