The popular mobile phone messaging service WhatsApp was in the news recently because it introduced something called end-to-end encryption for its users' messages. If you're a WhatsApp user and you've heard about this change, you might be wondering what the WhatsApp encryption message actually means, and how it works.
End-to-end encryption is a way of making messages sent through WhatsApp more secure, and stopping them from being read by anyone other than the intended recipient. Because of this sudden improvement in privacy for its one billion users, WhatsApp is now one of the most widely-used encrypted messaging services.
An encrypted message is one that has been changed into code, so that anyone who doesn't have the key to decrypt it would be unable to read what it says. Encryption is often used throughout the internet to keep people's data private and stop it from being intercepted.
End-to-end encryption – which is also called device-to-device encryption – means that the messages you send can only be converted back to text by the phone of the person you send them to. Not even WhatsApp themselves are able to decrypt your messages.
The downside of this is that WhatsApp can't decode messages even when there's an order to do so by law enforcement or governments, which has led to a lot of controversy. This got them into hot water in Brazil, after a judge ordered them to allow access to messages related to a drugs investigation. As the company weren't able to comply with the court order, the judge imposed a ban on WhatsApp for 72 hours.
Despite this setback, it seems like WhatsApp are sticking to their guns, so you can be assured that your messages will stay private when you use the service.