WhatsApp end-to-end encryption – what you need to know

WhatsApp end-to-end encryption – what you need to know

The popular messaging platform WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is used when you message another person using WhatsApp Messenger. End-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read or listen to what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.

“According to WhatsApp’s Terms and Conditions, if a user complains about inappropriate content or someone’s account, the service then has access to their recent messages. Numerous people have falsely concluded that this regulation annuls end-to-end (E2E) encryption,” says Victor Chebyshev, senior security researcher at Kaspersky, GReAT.

“We need to distinguish between such terms as end-to-end encryption and the ‘report’ button, because they are completely different algorithms. End-to-end encryption gives the user and recipient a special key to unlock and read messages,” adds Chebyshev.

“Even if the messenger provides end-to-end encryption, it doesn’t mean that your interlocutor cannot send private messages from your chat to someone else without your knowledge. And vice versa – after hitting the ‘report’ button, WhatsApp moderators do not get access to all of your data and collect it,” he says.

“They receive information that you provide them with only after you ask. Hence, it’s not realistic to claim that WhatsApp gets access to exactly five recent messages, as claimed. We conclude this based only on WhatsApp’s Terms and Conditions, nevertheless, there is no technical proof for this assumption yet.” 

Speaking of privacy concerns, Chebyshev said: “It is important to remember that no type of online communication can be absolutely 100% private. The presence of encryption and trust in an application are completely different things – and trusting the person you are chatting with is a whole different issue. Even the most secret and protected chat can be photographed, and likewise, E2E traffic encryption does not mean that the other person will not send your message to someone else.”