WhatsApp toughens encryption - Daily Nation

WhatsApp toughens encryption to enhance privacy

Wednesday April 6 2016

Logo of WhatsApp. Instant messaging can be a

Logo of WhatsApp. Instant messaging can be a messy affair for the less tech-savvy. Just ask Mukurwe-ini MP Anthony Kiai. PHOTO | STAN HONDA | AFP 

By WAGA ODONGO
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WhatsApp, the world’s most popular mobile messaging service, is encrypting all its services potentially putting all conversations on the platform outside the reach of the authorities.

This means that all WhatsApp users will send and receive messages that only their phone can decipher, making it difficult for outside parties to access the messages thus enhancing users’ privacy.

End-to-end encryption used by messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram code the messages sent in such a way that only the persons involved in the conversation have access to them with the message being difficult to decipher if intercepted by criminals or law enforcement.

WhatsApp, which has more than one billion users, rolled out encryption services to some of its users in 2014 and has now expanded the service to all its users.

Terrorists have been known to use messaging services which offer end-to-end encryption to communicate.

PARIS ATTACKS

Islamic State militants were said to be using encrypted messaging services to communicate during the plotting of the 2015 Paris attacks according to French security services.

Closer home, Al-Shabab militants shared photos of what they claimed were dead Kenyan soldiers using an automated service on an encrypted messaging app Telegram after the El-Adde attack.

The decision to encrypt all messages sent across the messaging platform comes just weeks after American authorities and technology company Apple faced off in court with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over an encrypted mobile phone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

The FBI was able to break into the phone even as Apple refused to assist them over privacy concerns.

The American government has in the past complained about the rise of encryption and how they hinder legal surveillance programs.

Director of the FBI James Covey last year said widespread use of data encryption services deprives police and intelligence services of potentially life-saving information.