"End-to-End Encryption" Enough For Security? - SciVenue
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“End-to-End Encryption” Enough For Security?

Some of the world’s most secure apps use end-to-end encryption. Top companies that use end-to-end encryption are Apple and WhatsApp. WhatsApp introduced its end-to-end encryption feature this year. We know it is something for our security. However, the questions that still bugs us include:

  • What exactly is end-to-end encryption?
  • How is it going to help us?
  • Is it really enough for our security?

Many people have these questions in mind and want to understand how it impacts on our privacy. Well, here’s what you should know about end-to-end encryption.

What is End-To-End Encryption?

Understanding end-to-end encryption completely can be a little difficult for non-tech savvy people. However, you can comprehend the basics of it quickly to understand how it works.

First of all, think of a messaging app, which has a fully unencrypted service. After typing a message on your phone, you hit send. Now, your cell phone provider receives this message, character-for-character. Then, it’s stored on their server and sent from the same server to a recipient’s phone. The main problem here is that, at each point in that transmission, the message is just a plain text which means any person can read it.

Partial-Path Encryption

Vividly, this means it isn’t safe. To make conversations safer, some apps provide a bit more safety. For instance, the messaging app of Facebook encrypts the messages you send through the part of their own journey.

You type the message on the phone and send it. The messenger encrypts the message so nobody can read it. After that, it reaches Facebook where they decrypt it. The Facebook saves the message on their server and re-encrypt it afterward. Then, they forward the message to the recipient where the decryption takes place once again. This mechanism is also known as partial-path encryption. Even using the partial-path encryption, the messages are saved in plain text in Facebook’s server which means they own the keys to encryption that is used. It also means that they can see the messages you send. Furthermore, if they want to hand the messages over to your government or in case of hacking, someone else can read the messages.



End-to-End Encryption

So, we get to use end-to-end encryption which WhatsApp provides for its customers. This technology ensures the security of your messages. It secures the whole communication by placing the key of the encryption in hands of the recipient and the sender only. In fact, the company cannot decrypt the message you send when they save it on their server. This means that the company cannot see your messages as well.

WhatsApp and End-To-End Encryption

WhatsApp introduced the encryption of the messages to their app users when a monumental battle was going on. It was quite a bold move to increase the privacy. Some of the law enforcement agencies in the world reacted badly towards the WhatsApp’s new feature. The feature doesn’t let the police or any law enforcement officers gain information regarding WhatsApp users. If any WhatsApp user is talking about a criminal activity or anything illegal on the app, the police can’t get to WhatsApp to turn over the messages sent. Now, law enforcement agencies hate it when they can’t gain information about a person they require.

WhatsApp has the end-to-end encryption, but it still has the right to have information about whom you’re talking to or at what time did your message got sent. In December 2015, WhatsApp was temporarily shut down in Brazil due to the encryption. Since WhatsApp is owned by Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, he said that he didn’t know helping people protect their data could result in an “extreme decision”.

WhatsApp is now one of the world’s biggest messaging apps and has gained a lot of trust due to securing the communication between its app users. This will lead the app to gain more potential app users and gain trust worldwide.



End-To-End Encryption In Various Countries

There are some countries, usually the strict ones that have banned encryption use already. However, the status of messaging apps that have the encryption feature is still in question.  It is not sure if any other country may ban WhatsApp for its nation due to the end-to-end encryption feature. Though, at some point, the US might try compelling WhatsApp to make a backdoor encryption key that can let police officers spying on some encrypted conversations via the app.

How WhatsApp’s response will be to this type of demand is unknown. Though, Mark Zuckerberg’s statements regarding Apple may certainly imply that he will take a stand against such an action taken.

Is End-To-End Encryption Fully Secured? And Does It Provide Enough Security? Or Is It Vulnerable To Surveillance?

Yes, it is fully secured. Communication is now more secure than any period in history. It has been possible with the help of end-to-end encryption. Even the company of the messaging app you use can’t see your messages or spy on you. Also, it means that in case the government tries to get a secret warrant for the servers, they can’t get access to your messages. However, when you’re talking to a group or talking to a person, they can get a screenshot of it. So, we suggest you, take the safety measures on your own all the times.

Visit https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/#privacy-policy for more information on privacy.

References:
https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/#privacy-policy
https://splinternews.com/it-just-got-a-lot-harder-for-the-police-to-read-whatsap-1793856021
http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/social/whatsapp-and-its-end-to-end-encryption-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-4807191/
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/world/americas/brazil-whatsapp-facebook.html?_r=0

  1. Kohlschrauber says:

    End-To-End encryption is not enough at all. Just look at WhatsApp. What is privacy if the company can access all of your metadata? Also, encryption is not everything. For example you have to give your phone number to use WhatsApp. There are so many alternatives to WhatsApp so why still try to boost WhatsApp. For example, Swiss Messenger Threema (https://threema.ch/en) let’s you go completely anonymous and does not collect Metadata. The media should stop talking about potential of Whatsapp or even praising it.

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