“Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.”
― Edward Snowden
Over the past few years WhatsApp messaging service has come under a cloud of questions regarding its security features. Recently, news has emerged regarding chat leaks of various popular Indian celebrities. Is this to say that your Whatsapp chat data is safe? Has it been accessed by the hundreds of hackers out there trying to sell your information?
In order to answer this question, I will have to tell you what encryption is?
Encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only authorized parties can understand the information. In technical terms, it is the process of converting human-readable plaintext to incomprehensible text, also known as ciphertext. In simpler terms, encryption takes readable data and alters it so that it appears random. Encryption requires the use of a cryptographic key: a set of mathematical values that both the sender and the recipient of an encrypted message agree on.The science of encrypting and decrypting information is called cryptography.
Encryption is an effective tool for securing information technology assets (IT). Confidentiality, Authenticity, Integrity, and Nonrepudiation are provided by Encryption. Encryption is commonly used to protect data . Every time someone uses an ATM or buys something online with a smartphone, encryption is used to protect the information being relayed. Businesses are increasingly relying on encryption to protect applications and sensitive information from reputational damage when there is a data breach. The purpose of encryption is to prevent unauthorized parties from gaining access to data they have obtained, but in some instances, encryption can prevent the data’s owner from accessing the information as well.
In building an enterprise encryption strategy, key management is a major challenge since the keys to decrypt the ciphertext must reside somewhere in the environment, and attackers usually know where they can find them.
Now coming back to the hot question, Is whatsapp encrypted?
Well the straight forward answer to this is yes. Chats with your best friend are completely safe, but email platforms, for example, are not encrypted, so your information is at risk.
While encryption is designed to keep unauthorized entities from being able to understand the data they have acquired, in some situations, encryption can keep the data’s owner from being able to access the data as well. Consequently, don’t forget how to decrypt your encrypted data, or else you will end up in a muddle!
So basically there are only three ways through which your Whatsapp data can be accessed. First is if your phone is physically stolen or lost, the reader will be able to access your WhatsApp messages, so it is critical that you have a lock on your phone. The second way is through WhatsApp groups. Namesake Whatsapp groups are end to end encrypted but if a person you don’t want is added they will be able to read your chats in the group. Chat backups are the third and most important way someone can access your chat data, so be sure to turn them off if they’re not already.
Featured image retrieved from: https://gigenet.com/blog/linux-encryption-backup-tools/