Anything virtual in this generation comes with a free token of the risk of security breach. Considering the security hazards of the online world, giant messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook messenger have initiated steps to secure this invisible medium of a conversation. Whatsapp messages are now end-to-end encrypted. This ensures that the messages are safe and can’t be read by someone else, except the two ends. Even voice calls, video calls, and group chats are end-to-end encrypted.
The update was announced by Jan Koum, the co-founder of Whatsapp on his Facebook page.
Jan Koum wrote, “We’ve been working for the past two years to give people better security over their conversations on WhatsApp… People deserve security. It makes it possible for us to connect with our loved ones. It gives us the confidence to speak our minds. It allows us to communicate sensitive information with colleagues, friends, and others. We’re glad to do our part in keeping people’s information out of the hands of hackers and cyber-criminals.”
Why we need the WhatsApp end to end encryption?
Text messages have already seen the face of extinction advent of the establishment of WhatsApp. Facebook, the parent of WhatsApp has established a firm and unique platform to encrypt, protect and secure their client privileges. This new benchmark set by the largest social network in the world is second to none. For communication providing services, achieving this threshold is like a dream come true. Post this update, cyber-criminals and hackers will find it impossible if not very hard to get inside the social circle of WhatsApp users. However, there were many controversies on E2EE. It was said that Whatsapp can be a dangerous weapon for secret planning. We will not go further into any kind of controversies that were on this update. So. let’s move straight to our main objective.
What is end to end encryption?
For starters, WhatsApp jumbles information from the sender to an extent to which decryption is only feasible on the recipient side, making it one to one or end to end secure. This is briefly how WhatsApp end to end encryption works. Encrypting information including photos, documents, text messages are the backbone of this immensely secure method. We can think of it as a very tough puzzle. The information to be sent is broken down into many pieces like that in a puzzle. These pieces are then scrambled, shuffled and jumbled. This makes it difficult for any intermediary to solve it. Whereas, the recipient can successfully decode and decipher the scrambled pieces back together to get the original information. This entire process is termed as encryption.
How Whatsapp end to end encryption is implemented?
Every bit of information jumbled is associated with a Whatsapp encryption key. This key works very similar to the actual key used for unlocking locks. Only this key is able to unscramble the information to get the original data. E2EE uses one of the two keys namely the pre-shared secret and the one-time derived secret.
The former of the two keys are used to establish a connection between the parties before the transfer of data. This secret or key is generated by the Whatsapp encryption key agreement protocol between the parties. Various protocols of public-key cryptography like Diffie-Hellman or symmetric key cryptography like Kerberos. An initialization vector is associated with the pre-shared secret to trigger the key at the time of transfer.
The method of Key generation and its role to make Whatsapp end to end encryption work.
The Diffie – Hellman method of cryptography involves coded symbols which represent the data to be sent. The second technique to process WhatsApp encryption method is the one-time derived secret. The Derived Unique Key Per Transaction(DUKPT) is a key management system in which a key is generated for from a fixed key. This key generated is not used after that point of time. This is a system to generate a new key for every new transaction happening between the sender and the recipient parties. One notable thing about the derived Unique key per transaction is that even if a foreign party gets the key and hacks out all the data, the past and the future communication data is safe.
The key generation pattern in this technique is unique to different devices and varies from device to device. Both the parties involved the process of exchanging information do not have to deal with a key agreement protocol beforehand. This type of key generation is typically found in point of sale(POS) devices for protection of the PIN. Typical server based communication guaranteed security only between clients and servers. However, the information available over these servers were at risk if at all any third party was involved. That was a brief detail about Whatsapp encryption method.
One notable thing about the derived Unique key per transaction is that even if a foreign party gets the key and hacks out all the data, the past and the future communication data is safe. The key generation pattern in this technique is unique to different devices and varies from device to device. Both the parties involved the process of exchanging information do not have to deal with a key agreement protocol beforehand. This type of key generation is typically found in point of sale(POS) devices for protection of the PIN. Typical server based communication guaranteed security only between clients and servers. However, the information available over these servers were at risk if at all any third party was involved. That was a brief detail about Whatsapp encryption method.
What end to end encryption actually offers?
Whatsapp end to end encryption works to significantly reduce the number of probable third-party foreign parties trying to break in. End to end encryption, however, is prone to man in the middle attacks. These forms of attacks happen when an eavesdropper tries to impersonate a message during key generation or by using the recipients’ key with his public key. WhatsApp uses barcode authentication to prevent man in the middle attacks. It generally involves scanning of the recipient’s phone displaying the barcode by the sender. So that was a brief walkthrough of how WhatsApp end to end encryption works. The latest versions of WhatsApp have the end to end encryption for every chat. WhatsApp has made E2EE compulsory for every chat.
So that was a brief look inside the ever-growing world of secure and smart technologies developed through promotion and innovation to protect and personalize the privacy of the social media users. Cybercriminals and hackers are getting wiser day after day and are continuously devising plans to rupture and destroy social privacy. Social media consists of various personal and professional profiles that replicate an actual human being. Exploitation of this data can have adverse consequences both on an individual and on a social level. Online fraud depositories such as Telebureau are mediums through which online fraud and links and suspicious sites can be reported and the social world can be made a safer place. With innovations such as the E2EE and several other security systems in use, the future of online security seems to be on a promising trajectory.