WhatsApp announces end-to-end encryption

WhatsApp has announced all communications sent through its platform are to be fully encrypted, which it claims makes it one of the most secure free messaging platforms around.

The new measures mean when you send a text message, voice message, photo, video or anything else through its platform, only the person or group who is sent the message can read it.

WhatsApp explained that neither cybercriminals nor hackers are able to access the content of the messages, nor can WhatsApp itself, oppressive regimes or governments that may want to snoop on its users, for example.

The company explained that although allowing access to data is an important part of law enforcement, not allowing end-to-end encryption could be dangerous, giving cybercriminals the means to hack into personal data.

"While we recognise the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people's information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states," WhatsApp said.

"While WhatsApp is among the few communication platforms to build full end-to-end encryption that is on by default for everything you do, we expect that it will ultimately represent the future of personal communication," WhatsApp founder Jan Koum added in a blog post.

"The desire to protect people's private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it's personal. I grew up in the USSR during communist rule and the fact that people couldn't speak freely is one of the reasons my family moved to the United States."

Although some aspects of WhatsApp were previously encrypted after the company's integration with Open Whisper Systems, it is now encrypted across all content - voice calls, video, and multi-party chat rooms - for users on both iOS and Android.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.