The most popular chat app chooses the best encryption technology. His messages will also be armored against the company itself
the news of the year of crypto environments. And not just those. Whatsapp, the chat app that is the most common user and mainstream usage, and that today controlled by Facebook, added one end-to-end encryption layer to its Android version.
What does it mean? That Whatsapp has embraced the state of the art of the best cryptographic technology to ensure that the messages exchanged by its users are protected from prying eyes. Not even the company will be able to read them, but only the two users at the end of the communication. The interesting aspect that Whatsapp uses the protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems, a non-commercial organization, which promotes open source and the use of encryption tools, with which it made a partnership. They are the same application developers much appreciated by pro-privacy activists (including Edward Snowden himself) as Signal and Redphone (which allow you to make encrypted calls respectively on iOS and Android) and TextSecure, a messaging app (here is a list of such tools). And it is precisely on the latter, and on its protocol, that the system implemented by WhatsApp is based, which among other things is capable of keep the past messages encrypted even if an attacker could at some point break the keys (a security feature known as forward secrecy).
wow, govt spies everywhere just had a heart attack. @WhatsApp to roll out end-to-end encryption for its 600m users: http://t.co/tR56tUXeSu
Ryan Gallagher (@rj_gallagher) November 18, 2014
It took six monthssaid the Open Whisper CTO Moxie Marlinspike, to implement encryption for Whatsapp, which means, as a note The Verge, that the operation would begin shortly after the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook. Although still group chat encryption is missing and multimedia messages and no one knows when the version will arrive iPhone, a blog post from Open Whisper Systems suggests that only the beginning and that other functions will come. The news has enthused many people in the industry.
Holy shit. @WhatsApp just enabled end to end encryption in their most recent update. I’m blown away. jay / the / god (@Shrouded) November 18, 2014
The WhatsApp partnership with Textsecure, while not as big, will be another step forward for end to end encryption: http://t.co/YCKTguHSWI
Eleanor Saitta (@Dymaxion) November 18, 2014
Amazing @moxie, @trevp__, @corbett, @FredericJacobs and the rest of the @whispersystems team have made this happen: https://t.co/GopsYwf2Dw Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) November 18, 2014
At this point we will have to rewrite the study, done a few days ago, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation which gave votes, regarding privacy / security, to different chat applications. WhatsApp was out of it. After this coupon it would probably fill up with green ticks.
But the news confirms above all the turn towards privacy also taken by large tech companies like Facebook. Which, let's remember, had even introduced a few days ago the anonymous version of your site, that set up a hidden service on the Tor network to allow users who use this software to make it easier to access the platform. And to add a level of protection since, by connecting directly to a hidden service, they must never leave the Tor circuit, with the risk that their traffic may be monitored in some way by an exit node.
Now the encryption has arrived on Whatsapp. From today, potentially, 600 million users I am one step away from a technology that a few years ago was used by a handful of cypherpunks.