WhatsApp's 'end-to-end' encryption claim may not be true

A complete secure conversation is something WhatsApp has promised. However, it may not be the complete truth.


One of the biggest announcements to come this week has been WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption. So, you may have seen a notification in the chat window claiming how the communication is secured. Now, end-to-end encryption essentially means the video, photo, messages or just about any data will be encrypted to ensure only the sender and recipient views it. this means, no eavesdropping from government agencies or hackers cannot decrypt the cryptographic keys. A complete secure conversation is something WhatsApp has promised.

However, it may not be the complete truth. To begin with, LiveMint has pointed out how the Terms and Conditions itself are a giveaway. The fine print clearly states that the date, time and recipient numbers, information will be stored and could also be made available on government requests. "When you use the WhatsApp Service, our servers log certain general information that our application sends whenever a message is sent or received, or if you update or request any status information, including time and date stamps and the mobile phone numbers the messages were sent from and to,".

(Also read: WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption service is legal in India, but it may not remain for long)

A report by InformationAge points at a blogpost by Lebanese hacker and blogger Jed Ismael showing a flaw in WhatsApp's claim. "Despite the current commercial propaganda, your public and private key are being generated using Whatsapp’s algorithm. Which means that Whatsapp is still in control of the security of your messages,  they can get your private keys, more over they can provide backdoors for governments and affiliates to spy on you," he writes.

"Although many protocols and additional measurements can be used to make the hackers job harder,  end-to-end encryption is never guaranteed to be full proof," he further argues.

With the backdrop of the ongoing Apple-FBI battle, WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption caused quite a stir in the tech world. It is turned on by default and all you need is a device running the latest version of WhatsApp across platforms – Android, iOS, Windows or even an older Nokia phone. However, it is not just about Apple-FBI fight and goes well beyond it. You can read more about the end-to-end encryption here.


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