Are you safe when you WhatsApp someone? There are many articles online that will tell you different things and many experts that will say that you aren’t. The internet is very good at confusing people and giving several versions of something. Yes this is another version of that, but I feel it is the fairest.
WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. It is now owned by Facebook as of February 19 this year for lots of money and is being kept as a separate platform/business. So it is by no means a small platform that doesn’t need to worry about security .
If you visit their website: whatsapp.com you will see they have a whole page dedicated to security and explaining how you are safe. There is also a link to the full technical details on that page. Here are the basics:
Security by Default
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is available when you and the people you message use the latest versions of our app. Many messaging apps only encrypt messages between you and them, but WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. This is because your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read them. For added protection, every message you send has its own unique lock and key. All of this happens automatically: no need to turn on settings or set up special secret chats to secure your messages.
This means that anyone that is running the latest version of WhatsApp will be on this encryption platform. Can you take their word for it that they won’t give your info to someone? In short, Yes. They have clearly said that “WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp“, so imagine the lawsuit they would face if someone got your info from them! The way to tell if you are on a secure chat is at the top of the chat you will see a message the same as mine in the Image above. If you don’t see that message another way is to tap on the person/group profile at the top of the chat and it will tell you in there if you are secure or not.
Does this mean that you are 100% safe? No it doesn’t. While WhatsApp guarantees that no one, not even they, can decrypt and read your messages except the person on the receiving end, your phone can still be hacked. If your phone is hacked, the hacker can see everything on your device and this will include the decrypted messages. Should your device be hacked it won’t be because of something you said on WhatsApp, but rather on another platform, or you are just on the ‘Watch List’. If you suspect you have been hacked then look for a VPN app like TunnelBear and a security app for your device.
It’s best to just watch what you say and to who.