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More than 500 million people are using the WhatsApp Android application now. the most widely used instant messaging service in the world announced that it has started encrypting messages in order to protect its users from hackers, says Open Whisper Systems, a software development group associated with the company.

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Last Tuesday, WhatsApp declared that it is out, performing end-to-end encryption, an upgrade to its privacy protections that makes it nearly impossible for anyone to read users’ messages—even the company itself, WhatsApp claims it will not be able to decrypt any messages even if it is asked to do so by the authorities.

This will be achieved via TextSecure protocol, which scrambles messages with a cryptographic key that only the user can access and never leaves his or her device. That’s why end-to-end encryption is so hard to break.

WhatsApp, which became a Facebook subsidiary, will use an encryption system that will store keys on the company’s server, giving WhatsApp and Facebook administrators the ability to access to user communications.

Open Whisper Systems wrote in a blog:

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“WhatsApp deserves enormous praise for devoting considerable time and effort to this project. Even though we’re still at the beginning of the rollout, we believe this already represents the largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted communication in history.

WhatsApp runs on an incredible number of mobile platforms, so full deployment will be an incremental process as we add TextSecure protocol support into each WhatsApp client platform.”

This data scrambling system will make it much harder to listen in on another person’s private conversation. The result is practically uncrackable encryption for hundreds of millions of phones and tablets that have Whatsapp installed.

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Moxie Marlinspike, Open Whisper System’s creator and a well known software developer in the cryptography community said (reported by wired.com):

“Whatsapp is integrating Textsecure into the most popular messaging app in the world, where people exchange billions of messages a day. I do think this is the largest deployment of end-to-end encryption ever.”

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According to RT, the encryption system will be applied only to messages sent via the Android version; it will include group messages, photos and videos sent via the Android app later.

The BBC reported:

“Open Whisper said it also planned to develop versions of TextSecure that work with WhatsApp apps on other smartphone operating systems but did not give a date for when those would be ready.”

In October, Facebook completed a $22bn (£14bn) acquisition of WhatsApp. WhatsApp is now following other great high-tech companies like Google and Apple, which have also revealed that they are working to improve their security systems to prevent hackers from accessing the data that users share.

Sources:

(1) Open Whisper Systems

(2) IT Pro

(3) Images Credits: Pixabay, Pixabay, Wikipedia


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