WhatsApp read receipts

WhatsApp, the most popular instant-messaging platform with more than 600 million users which Facebook snapped up for $16 billions earlier this year, has started to protect data with end-to-end encryption, The Wall Street Journal reports.

For the time being, text messages exchanged between Android users of WhatsApp are being encrypted by default.

It shouldn’t be too long until the company adds encryption to the iOS app and other mobile platforms. Encryption protects users’ communications from governments and hackers alike by making the data unreadable as it travels between servers.

That means WhatsApp won’t be able to help law enforcement decrypt messages, the company said. Encryption does not currently apply to group messages or media messages (I have no doubt that the team is already on it), nor does it protect messages exchanged between an Android device and an iPhone, or other non-Android smartphone or tablet, from prying eyes.

The team is working with Open Whisper Systems, a privacy-technology company run by Moxie Marlinspike, on encryption in WhatsApp. Privacy advocates have noted that WhatsApp’s implementation of encryption will make it impossible for foreign governments and U.S. agencies to intercept text messages, even with a warrant.

“We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default,” Open Whispers said in a blog post.

Open Whisper Systems received grants from the U.S. government to develop the open-source, free of charge TextSecure encryption protocol.

Unlike iMessage which also uses end-to-end encryption but backs up encrypted messages on Apple’s servers for users who have enabled iCloud Backup, WhatsApp does not keep contents of your communications stored on its servers, meaning the firm can’t decrypt messages for commercial or law-enforcement purposes even if it wanted.

Note that most of WhatsApp’s more than 600 million users are located outside the United States so Uncle Sam will no have a much harder time eavesdropping on WhatsApp messages of non-U.S. citizens.

 

Recently refreshed for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and now with read receipts, WhatsApp is available at no cost in the App Store

[The Wall Street Journal]

  • Slifur

    iOS 8.1.1 is already jailbroken by iH8snow! But it only works with 30pin connector device, for now. I wish he will release this cos my devices on ios 8.1 still have many bugs.

    • Tyler Smith

      no wait until 8.2 and use the same exploit. 8.1.1 didn’t fix much.

      • I agree with your sentiment. Pangu could have waited a bit before releasing their jailbreak. They didn’t and so we ended up with a buggy jailbreak for a while and users of older devices have no doubt lost out big time due to the poor performance of iOS 8 on their devices…

        Don’t get me wrong I’m grateful for a jailbreak and the work of Pangu but wish they’d have waited a bit longer…

      • Tyler Smith

        Exactly. I believe they could have waited. But personally I am glad that they didn’t. For the first time in almost 3 years I used stock iOS for much to long. I got an iPhone 6 and it came preloaded with iOS 8 and then i upgraded to 8.1 (DUH) but i was very happy to hear about the jailbreak. My worry and what people do not understand is with every 8.1.x update that we jailbreak. We lose that exploit which can be used in the next 8.x. People do not understand that those 8.1.x or 8.2.x updates are not needed to be jailbroken. People are all “WE NEED JAILBREAK NOW!” Why? we know that 8.2 and even 8.3 are in the process? People need to relax.

      • Slifur

        Yes thats what Im thinking but ios 8.2 is expected to be release on march-april next year right? That’s too late cos ios 9 will be out couple months after that. But whatever happens, im happy with my jailbroken devices right now.