The Era Of End-to-end Encryption In Chats
If you have the Whatsapp messenger on your phone, then at some point, while chatting with your friends, you should have come across a message that read, “Messages to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption…” This article will shed light on this feature and what it does.
End-to-end encryption (also known as E2EE for short or Secret Chat) is a technique used in communication systems where no one besides the communicating users can read the texts or messages or videos or photos. Everyone is particular about securing their privacy. You should, therefore, only use apps that have default enabled end-to-end encryption.
How End-to-end Encryption Works
An end-to-end encryption system is based on a key exchange and uses:
- a pre-classified string of symbols which are referred to as a pre-shared secret (PGP);
- or a one-time secret derived from such a pre-shared secret (DUKPT);
- or a secret key which is derived on the spot using the Diffie-Hellman key exchange (OTR).
It’s quite simple, really.
When User A sends a message, the system ensures that the message is first converted into a secret message or a secret code by its original sender that resembles a request. The message can only be decoded by the intended final recipient. When User B accepts this request by responding to the message, a secret chat has been created, where only both clients can decode or unlock the messages.
The communicating parties in the chat are the only ones in possession of the key to unlock the messages that run to-and-fro between them.
The quest for privacy has birthed a whole generation of apps, like Whatsapp and Telegram, which imbibe this encryption system in their workings (Derek, 2016). With Telegram, , you can message individuals or create groups with an unlimited number of users without entertaining trolls that plague the likes of Facebook. With Whatsapp, a security-verification code is provided which you can share with a contact to ensure encryption of your conversation.
The Benefits Of End-to-end Encryption
With both Whatsapp and Telegram, and many more apps that fall within this class, end-to-end encryption happens automatically, provided all parties are using the latest version of the apps, so there’s no requirement to be a tech geek in order to turn on any special settings.
Things like data theft, metadata, digital eavesdropping, surveillance, and digital snooping have become a source of concern to internet users as they touch on our online privacy. It is much to our relief of the general public that app developers are rising to the defense of the ordinary internet user, and are creating tools that give us back the power to choose how much of what we share online is snatched up by governments and profit-making companies.
With end-to-end encryption, cyber criminals, law-enforcement agencies, and even the app developers themselves can’t see what we’re sharing. End-to-end encryption is a much safer way to communicate because it greatly reduces the number of interferers who might be able to break the encryption.
It was Jan Koum, co-founder of Whatsapp who said, “People deserve security….. We’re glad to do our part in keeping people’s information out of the hands of hackers and cyber-criminals.” (Tech, 2016).