Chats always remain encrypted, but now WhatsApp no longer guarantees data security on every occasion: here's when and why
Instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram are now used by billions of people around the world and, almost all of them, offer the guarantee of confidentiality of conversations thanks to "end-to-end" (E2E) encryption. Or, at least, that's what the users who use and trust them believe because this type of encryption prevents even those who manage the platform from reading what the messages contain. WhatsApp, however, is starting to admit that this is not always the case.
In the latest beta for Android of the WhatsApp app, version 188.8.131.52, the Facebook group has in fact changed some information text and, now, you can read that not all conversations are encrypted with E2E with the same procedures. To tell the truth, however, the communication is not very clear because it refers mainly to the management of security codes used to encrypt chats that, in a very short time, may no longer be in the hands of WhatsApp. The classic devil hidden in the details, then. Let's try to understand, then, what changes in the encryption of WhatsApp chats, if the user's privacy is at risk and why all this is about to become very important for all of us.
App WhatsApp encryption: when it works and when not
Let's clarify, first of all, that nothing has changed in the encryption applied by WhatsApp to our chats, for which the Signal protocol is always used. The only difference, in fact, is in the communication: now WhatsApp offers a few more details. In the privacy section of the beta app's settings, in fact, it now says that "Some companies will be able to choose WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook, to securely store messages and respond to customers. While Facebook will not automatically use your messages to personalize the ads you see, companies will be able to use the chats they receive for their own marketing purposes, which may include Facebook advertising."
What does this all mean? To understand it you have to consider the fact that WhatsApp, starting in 2021, will give companies that use WhatsApp to communicate with customers the option to store chats on Facebook's servers or on external servers. In this second case, the encryption will not be managed by WhatsApp, but by the service used by each company and all this will be communicated to the user within the chat.
In cases like this, therefore, WhatsApp raises its hands and no longer guarantees the security of the chats nor that the data exchanged are used in a way that respects the privacy of the users. A communication in a certain sense obvious and "service", but it is an important clarification because, in fact, in a few months those who use WhatsApp to communicate with a business profile will do well to inform themselves first on how the company manages the data of its contacts.
WhatsApp encryption: why this news is important
All this surge of transparency by WhatsApp is not accidental, because it comes a few days after the announcement that the chat platform will soon become a platform for online sales and payment, directly from the app.
Let's be clear: the operation of WhatsApp does not change and encryption will be applied to all chats even in 2021, only that the Facebook group company will no longer be able to guarantee the security of the encryption nor the way in which the information exchanged between user and business will be used.