WhatsApp rolls out strong encryption for its massive user base

WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the world, now features strong encryption by default to protect the privacy of its users’ communications.

The security upgrade for WhatsApp, which has over 600 million users and processes billions of messages every day, marks the largest end-to-end encrypted messaging deployment in history. The project has been in the works for the last half year, beginning after Facebook bought the company for $19 billion.

WhatsApp partnered with Open Whisper Systems, the developers of TextSecure, to complete the upgrade. TextSecure, widely regarded as one of the best private messengers ever built, recently received a perfect security score from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.



In a blog post, the Open Whisper Systems team said that the WhatsApp client would soon roll out support for group and media messages as well as key verification options.

WhatsApp’s decision to encrypt its users’ communication follows the headline-grabbing spat between Apple and FBI director James Comey after the American tech giant began to encrypt its users’ phones by default. Comey and fellow encryption critics now face a vast expansion of strong encryption—and it’s not over yet. Google and Yahoo have announced plans to offer strong end-to-end encryption for their email services.

Illustration by Jason Reed

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.