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WhatsApp turns on end-to-end encryption for its 1 billion users

The Facebook-owned WhatsApp has announced that going forward, messages, voice calls, and sharing of photos and videos, are now encrypted end-to-end. Now people using WhatsApp on any platform can send anything to another user, and it will be inaccessible to anyone except the recipient. Not even WhatsApp itself can get in.

From Wired:

This means that if any group of people uses the latest version of WhatsApp—whether that group spans two people or ten—the service will encrypt all messages, phones calls, photos, and videos moving among them. And that's true on any phone that runs the app, from iPhones to Android phones to Windows phones to old school Nokia flip phones.

While WhatsApp has been adding encryption features for years now, the company felt it needed to make a larger move to protect the privacy of its more than 1 billion users around the world. As co-founder Jan Koum states:

We're somewhat lucky here in the United States, where we hope that the checks and balances hold out for many years to come and decades to come. But in a lot of countries you don't have these checks and balances," says Koum, dressed in his usual T-shirt and hoodie. Coming from Koum, this is not an academic point, as most of WhatsApp's users are outside the US.

This move comes after a very public fight between the FBI and Apple over encryption, in which the FBI attempted to compel Apple to disable a security feature in iOS by creating a special version of the operating system and loading to a suspect's phone. While law enforcement officials have yet to speak on WhatsApp's recent actions, it seems likely that they'll have something to say sooner or later.

70 Comments
  • Cmon whatsapp start working on universal whatsapp app.. W10M is out now..
  • This is about encryption not wm10 app, relax it will cone soon Sent from windows 10 mobile
  • it takes time to code any application. have patience.
  • W10 has been out for almost a year and was available to end users for a long time before that, let alone major app devs. All Windows Phone users have huge patience. It is a requisite part of owning one. I think it looks a bit off to berate someone on that score at this point.
  • But it still doesn't work properly so I'd prefer waiting til Microsoft gets it right.
  • W10M is a very important part of UWP if WhatsApp is concerned, and it was officially released last month..........
  • Officially released last month? Forgetting the 950 and 950XL released back in November (I know most retailers, consumers, and probably even Microsoft have, so I don't blame you if you have forgotten as well.) Also, what happened to Windows 10 being one OS? That's what everyone here was saying when they were tring to rationalize the Windows phone eulogy Terry Myerson delivered last week. In that case Windows 10 has been out since last July. In either case, Windows 10 Mobile has certainly been released long before "last month."
  • Is there any source that says they are working on it??
  • You have WhatsApp Web and Universal on PC won't work without a SIM, and WhatsApp said it will work on it when the market share is more of 10.
  • WhatsApp works without sim. only phone number is required. but when we activate on another devide, the previous one will be removed. so currently it will run only on 1 device at a time ~DheeraJ~
  • This is my big problem with WhatsApp... I have multiple devices and it is useless on all but one at a time. Because of that, I use Messenger which syncs everywhere. I don't see how WhatsApp can fix that without storing the messages in the cloud, which seems counter to what they've been doing, so I don't expect it to change.
  • In short it means that it requires a SIM Card........
  • Actually, no. I've run it on a device that I didn't have a SIM card for and it was just a WiFi device.  You have to input a phone number to activate which deactivates wherever you had last activated. So, no need to have a SIM card to run it.
  • The fix is simple, unique pin association with your phone number (account). You can use said pin to activate other devices should you wish or using the same method as the web activation. The issue is the underlying back end will need to support multiple end points for push. However they do appear to have somewhat over come that with whatsapp web as messages show up on phone and web instantly.
     
  • They are working on it!
  • In short WhatsApp for windows10 will come but not as uwp b coz it's doesn't make sense
  • Why they should waste time and resources programming for W10M, when Microsoft itself isn't interested in their own OS?
  • makbata, you win the dumb comment of the week award. of course MS are interested in UWP, just look at the changes to data binding to suit the needs of the Office team... oh wait... you don't code... you don't really understand what is happening and have made summary judgements on what MS's intentions are based on forum trolling.
  • Is WhatsApp not part of the Facebook wave of apps that we're waiting for?
  • The apps that were coming soon last year and still coming soon this year? Probably not, just Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.
  • yeah noticed and tiped windowscentral
  • That's cool.
  • Just hope that Saudi Arabia won't block like it did with Viber :(
  • Can't you just use a VPN to unblock it?  I remember traveling to Oman, and skype was blocked, but I just used a VPN and was able to use it after that.
  • Hacking can undo whatever, but it is not convenient for public to use VPN :\
  • Russia wont be happy about this (too)
  • Or UK or USA
  • Great now make a Windows 10 app Posted on Lumia 930 with
    Windows 10 Mobile
  • **find it in each user's / group's info. -tap on the encryption and you can see the QR code plus 60 digit code. -you can scan the code with the camera in your partner's phone as wel as share it (sharing is disabled on whatsapp for unknown reasons) -the code should match in both the phones. -if they do not match then either the code is of other receipient.
  • What version is that available? All my contacts say that Encryption is not enabled.
  • Both sender & receiver should be on the latest version to work
  • version: 2.16.2
  • Shows update is required for every device, even though on latest version.
  • Same
  • Encryption doesn't work between Android and Windows devices. It works Android-Android, Windows-Windows, Windows-BB, Android-BB, BB-BB, etc.
    On my phone, it says the other person (Android user) needs to update the app, and on the other side, the other person gets the same message, saying I need to update the app! Lumia 730 DS, Windows 10 Mobile.
  • Ohh nice !Cool!
  • Nokia FTW.
  • Indeed. Can't wait to see their Android handsets when they are announced.  
  • Cool,  when I opened my whatsapp on my 1520, in my conversation it has a little lock on it, and a message that states "messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end to end encryption.  Tap for more info".
  • Exactly same here
  • It doesn't with my contacts, even Windows Phone users. It just says "encryption. Messages you send to this chat and calls are not end-to-end encrypted. Tap for more info". So I tap and "Messages you send to this chat and calls are not end-to-end encrypted because *name*  needs to update Whatsapp. I have gone on her phone and had a look and hers is enabled and has the QR code and everything. This is what all my contacts. I also have the latest version 2.16.2.
  • A much welcome change for those who live overseas.
  • Take that NSA!!!!
  • it's facebook... do you really think they are having any kind of encryptation where only the recipent can get it? yeah right... it's facebook the owner of Whatsapp... you shouldn't believe everything they say, especially when Whatsapp team is the worst, the apps suck regardless of platform, and the only reason they stay alive it's because some dumb idiots in certain countries (not US of course) use it alot, especially on spanish countries, it seems they love it, even if it sucks, it needs phone number to be used, and you can't use it on multiple devices, the web version took 4 months to get Edge and IE support... yeap, they suck and since they are owned by facebook now... well? I wouldn't believe in any form of privacy. oh I also forgot to say their call feature sucks, even if they lie about being used more than skype (yeah right) it won't change how crappy and bad this features was, is and will always be. probably the video one will be worst... that's the only thing that can't make it worse than the call feature nobody use (even if they say people do). 
  • Someone certainly has an axe to grind.
  • In certain parts of the world whatsapp had become the new unlimited sms. Especially because it is tired to a phone number. As for calls it doesn't us hd vice or a very high bit rate so an hour long call consumes just over 20 mb. I made a similar call using Skype voice and spent over 80mb. For that reason alone in more inclined to make whatsapp calls instead of phone calls.
  • Wow you certainly called a lot of people dumb. Having a bad day ehh?
  • What's with the venom? It all about us having more choices. As much as I use other apps (Skype, Telegram, etc) it's no getting away that WhatsApp is the default messenger app, globally. Period.
  • Good work by Whatsapp.
  • Wow didnt realised it came on Windows although all of my contacts are saying that person has not upgraded whatsapp so it's disabled
  • Thank you whats app
  • When in india?
  • Not this question again
  • It doesn't with my contacts, even Windows Phone users. It just says "encryption. Messages you send to this chat and calls are not end-to-end encrypted. Tap for more info". So I tap and "Messages you send to this chat and calls are not end-to-end encrypted because *name*  needs to update Whatsapp. I have gone on her phone and had a look and hers is enabled and has the QR code and everything. This is what all my contacts. I also have the latest version 2.16.2.
  • thank you Whatsapp!!
  • With the NSA in the middle?  
  • Cool..time to start using this app! Can someone comment that you have to be a Facebook member in order to use this app?
  • Their response to the FBI concerning the apple case I guess
  • I understand the need for privacy measures, but this only makes things easier for terrorists and other criminal minded people and organizations, and harder for law enforcement to be able to get evidence from electronic communications. This could potentially cause more harm than good in a time sensitive situation. There has to be cooperative and collaborative efforts between software companies that provide encryption for their services and the intelligence and law enforcement communities that allow for access only when needed and only when the proper channels have been utilized, according to law and policies that may already be in place, or policies and laws that need to be implemented. Technology and the way people communicate constantly change and it is hard to apply many of the current laws, policies and constitutional rights across the board that would account for every situation.
  • Hmm so wat if someone report a revenge porn how will they remove it of encrypted end to end
  • Disappointed to say the least Posted via the Windows Central App for Symbian
  • Ha same old ****, maybe worse. Doesn't take a CEO to see where Microsoft was headed. No where! Oh well guess I'll eBay a 1520 to go along with my 950. Most of my friends who owned a windows phone, ha (only 1) has switched to iPhone and he has apps and watched WWE on his phone lol. Anyway just goes to show how stupid Microsoft is.. Came in late still developing, still last still late and a surface phone that will be late and still will need updates after it's released. PEN Technology, the thing of the future (only for windows phone users 2017(maybe)). Yes I like windows phone..
  • Encryption doesn't work between Android and Windows devices. It works Android-Android, Windows-Windows, Windows-BB, Android-BB, BB-BB, etc.
    On my phone, it says the other person (Android user) needs to update the app, and on the other side, the other person gets the same message, saying I need to update the app! WTF! Lumia 730 DS, Windows 10 Mobile.
  • Could this encrypted chat an be accessed by cyber cell??
  • Its not true i have android users and is showing chat is secured
  • Well, for me only Android users don't have encrypted message. And Android users don't see my chat as encrypted.
  • May be because their version is not updated
  • No, they see the encryption for other android users. My issue is only with Android users.
  • so annoying to set up! you have to email a QR code to every contact then get them to view it on another device, scan it, then you can start talking again! what is the point in proving its them when it obvioulsy is!
  • My issue got solved with the latest update.