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Just recently, WhatsApp released its long awaited encryption update to all users, and with the roll out having going on for a while, we can assume that the feature has already reached almost every user out there, letting them enjoy its benefits regardless of the mobile platform they are running. The company also announced that outdated versions of its client are going to expire over time, which means that almost everyone will be running a version that supports end-to-end encryption in due course.

Though it is regarded as the most popular IM app today, people wondered why WhatsApp only implemented encryption just lately, unlike other similar apps, such as Signal, Threema and Wickr, which had done it long ago. Now, it is important to understand what it is for the app and its users.

Encryption is a method of encoding data in a way that only the authorized parties are able to read it. Though it does not prevent someone from intercepting information, it prevents him from being able to view the content. Basically, encrypted messages can only be held by those having access to their keys, given that these keys are properly kept secret. This means that with end-to-end encryption, no one (even WhatsApp themselves) will be able to gain access to your chats except you and the sender. You can rest assured that all your chats are now private. Explain this further, here is WhatsApp has to say on their legal page:

“Messages between WhatsApp users are protected with an end-to-end encryption protocol so that third parties and WhatsApp cannot read them and so that the messages can only be decrypted by the recipient. All types of WhatsApp messages (including chats, group chats, images, videos, voice messages and files) and WhatsApp calls are protected by end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp servers do not have access to the private keys of WhatsApp users, and WhatsApp users have the option to verify keys in order to ensure the integrity of their communication.”

This means that the actual message content are encrypted and cannot be read in transit through the servers of WhatsApp, but metadata, such as date and time of communication, and the involved parties in the chat are still accessible. You see, providing access to metadata is important as they can be very helpful to government and security agencies when the need arises.

It seems that encryption has come to stay, and it has actually become a fundamental right for people to keep their communications private and secure while online.

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