WhatsApp has started to fully encrypt communications by default in what may be â€œthe largest deployment of end-to-end encryption in history,â€ according to news reports.
The company will integrate Textsecure, an open-source software created by Open Whisper Systems. The encryption protocol will cypher messages using a key that only the user can access and is found exclusively inside the userâ€™s device.
â€œFor the past three years, weâ€™ve been developing a modern, open source, strong encryption protocol for asynchronous messaging systems, designed to make seamless end-to-end encrypted messaging possible,â€ Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Open Whisper Systems, said in a blog post.
With the Textsecure protocol, WhatsApp messages will travel encrypted to the recipientâ€™s device and will only be decrypted at destination. In the past, communication was secured only from the userâ€™s device and WhatsApp servers which may have allowed hackers or governmental agencies to eavesdrop on peopleâ€™s messages.
The new feature, which has been under testing for a week, is limited to Android and does not yet support encrypted messaging for group chat or media messages. Textsecure is still under development and WhatsApp plans to integrate other features and platforms in the future, Marlinspike said.
The change will not impact user experience, the company said.
â€œWe believe that by continuing to advance the state of the art for frictionless private communication with open source software, open protocols, and simple libraries, weâ€™ll have additional opportunities to support mass adoption of end-to-end encryption,â€ Marlinspike said.