How WhatsApp Secures Our Chats? What is End-to-end Encryption? Role Of Security Code

Nowadays, every person who owns a smartphone is definitely using any of the social media applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. However, there is a chance that someone using any of the social media platforms is using two or more social media accounts, but almost everyone who owns a smartphone is using WhatsApp to connect with their friends, family members, and even for various office tasks. But in the digital era, whenever we discuss about online work or social media, our privacy is always a major issue. So, is our privacy protected when we connect with friends, family, and coworkers through WhatsApp?Are our chats and media secure? If so, then how does WhatsApp make our chats and media secure?

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a messaging application, available for free to download and install via the playstore on Android phones and via the app store on iPhones. Whatsapp allows us to connect with friends, family members, and colleagues (whoever is in our contacts). By using WhatsApp, we can send messages, photos, videos, documents, contacts, and we can do audio and video calls too. We can even make payments (send money) to a person connected to us via WhatsApp.
In simple words, we can say that WhatsApp is a modified version of our messaging application. In the olden days, before the revolution of smartphones, everyone used to use feature phones with basic applications to accomplish their daily basic purposes. The feature phones were not as advanced as the smartphones. On that phone, we used a messaging application provided by the phone's manufacturers. But while using that, we had several limitations, and we had to pay the charges to our mobile number operators, fixed by them. But WhatsApp has removed all those limitations. Now we can send text messages, photos, audios, videos, documents, locations, emojis, and even make payments via the internet, completely free of charge. We don't have to pay extra charges. 

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How Does WhatsApp Secure Our Chats Or Our Privacy?

Whatsapp commits that "privacy and security are in our DNA", it secure our privacy and make our chats secure by using end-to-end encryption. Let's know, what end-to-end encryption is? As the WhatsApp application is available on the playstore and appstore as "WhatsApp Messenger" and "WhatsApp Business", we will also know how end-to-end encyption works for these applications.

What Is End-to-End Encryption?

End-to-end encyption is a system that allows secure communications between sender and receiver only. Whenever we communicate (send anything) via end-to-end encyption, it means anything we send can be seen only by the sender and the recievers. Any person or third party (including telecom operators, Internet providers, malicious state bodies, and even the provider of the communication service) can not see that and can not interfere. The recipients can retrieve the data and can decrypt it themselves. In order to see the chats or media users have sent through end-to-end encryption, a third party would have to decrypt the conversation, and to do so, they must have access to the cryptographic keys needed to decrypt the conversation.

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End-to-end Encyption In WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp Messenger is used by everyone for personal messaging purposes with their friends, family members, and colleagues. Whenever a user chats with another person or a member of a group, that chat is secured by end-to-end communication. Only the recipient can see, read, and listen to the chat. No third person or third party (including network operator, internet service provider, malicious bodies, or even WhatsApp) can see, read, or store the chat's data. All chats are secured by a lock and that is locked by a special key. If any third party wishes to see, read, or listen to the chat, they must unlock the lock to access the chats, and to do so, they require that special key. That special can be accessed by recipients only.

End-to-end Encyption in WhatsApp Business

The messages sent by WhatsApp business applications, audio and video calls made by it are secured by the signal encryption protocol (a non-federated cryptographic protocol that is used to provide end-to-end encryption for voice calls, video calls and instant messaging conversations). Whenever you send a message to any WhatsApp business user, it secures the messages before leaving your device and securely delivers them to the destination decided by business.
 
Chats with businesses that use the WhatsApp Business app or manage and store customer messages themselves are considered end-to-end encrypted by WhatsApp. Once received, the message will be subject to the company's own privacy policies. The company may appoint a team of employees or even outside vendors to process and respond to the message.
 
If some businesses wish to auto-response to customer messages, then they have the option to choose it. But in this case, it allows WhatsApp's parent company (META) to securely store and get access to a customer's messages so that they can respond to them. Still, users can contact businesses to get information about their privacy policies. 

How To Verify Your Chats Are End-to-End Enncypted Or Not?

Whenever we chat with any person, both the sender and the reciever have a unique security code shared between them. A security code is used for the verification of end-to-end encyption. It's just a visible version of the security keys shared between the recipients. You need not worry because this security code is not the actual key that is required to access and decrypt the conversation.

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Steps to find the Security Code and verify end-to-end Encyption: 

Suppose you are sending a message to one of your friends, then a unique security code is shared between you and your friend. That can be accessed by you and your friend's device only. 

Find the security code:

In order to know the security code, just follow these steps:
 
* Search for the desired contact
 
Click on contact and open the chat.
 
* Now, click on the name appearing in the chats above, to get your contact info.
 
Click on the three vertical dot icons in the top right corner of the screen.

* Select "verify the security code".
 
Now a screen will appear having the security code in both forms, such as a QR code and a 60-digit code. 

Verify end-to-end encyption: 

Once you find the security code, you can verify whether your chat is end-to-end encrypted or not: 
 
* If you are not near to your friend and cannot access your friend's device, then get access to the security code shared between you and your friend. Tap on the share icon that appears on the top right corner and send it to your friend. If, after receiving it, your friend writes it down on a piece of paper or anywhere else and compares it to the security code displayed on his device for you, if both are same, it means your chats are end-to-end encrypted. Your friend can scan QR code too, If a green check mark appears after scanning the QR code, it means your chats are end-to-end encrypted.
 
* If you and your friend are nearby, then simply open the contact info, then open the verification security code and compare it.

* In case your friend recently reinstalled WhatsApp or changed their device, kindly refresh the security code and then compare it.

Why Do We Get Security Code Change Notification?

Whenever any recipient reinstalls WhatsApp or changes their phone, the security code code gets changed. When you open chat, a message will appear saying "your security code with that person changed".

Steps To Enable The Security Code Change Notification:

To get notified whenever the security code changes for any contact, follow these steps:
 
* Open WhatsApp, tap the three vertical dot icon in the upper right corner, and then select Settings.

* Select Account.

A new window will appear.
 
* A screen will appear with different options. 

* Now click on security.
 
* Now enable the "show security notifications."

Are WhatsApp Payments End-to-End Encrypted?

WhatsApp payment allows us to transfer money to our contacts via the WhatsApp payments feature that is currently available in selected countries. But the WhatsApp payments are not end-to-end encrypted. Card and bank account numbers are stored securely on a highly-secured network. However, financial institutions cannot process transactions without receiving this information.