WhatsApp, the popular mobile messaging application with more than one billion active users, has announced its adding full end-to-end encryption to all communication on its service.
The feature means a major enhancement in security for users worldwide, making it nearly impossible for anyone to snoop on the messages, phone calls, photos, videos and attachments exchanged across WhatsApp’s network.
End-to-end encryption is enabled by default on any mobile phone running the latest version of the app, including iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry and Nokia.
“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send the message to,” reads a blog post published by WhatsApp.
“No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.”
The app originally began implementing encryption back in 2013, and adopted the capability for messages on certain phones after a collaboration with privacy-focused company Open Whisper Systems in 2014.
Committed to expand support across additional in-app features and operating systems, WhatsApp says it spent the last 18 months fully integrating Open Whisper System’s strong encryption protocol into the product.
The announcement comes on the heels of much controversy around the Apple vs. FBI debacle, which has brought the issue of encryption and user privacy front and center.
“Encryption is one of the most important tools governments, companies and individuals have to promote safety and security in the new digital age,” said WhatsApp.
“While we recognize 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.”
According to Wired Magazine, the company has recently received a wiretap order after the Justice Department “ran into its end-to-end encryption,” which could potentially lead to another court battle.
WhatsApp declined to comment on the particular order, reported Wired.