How secure are end-to-end encrypted messaging applications?



People have now become aware of their digital privacy and security. To meet increasing user demand for online security, many messaging applications have started to incorporate end-to-end encryption. A lot of messaging apps like Singal, WhatsApp, and Telegram offer end-to-end encryption for users. Even though end-to-end encryption offers a certain layer of protection, one might wonder how secure end-to-end encryption really is? Before understanding how secure it is, it becomes essential to first understand how end-to-end encryption works.

What is end-to-end encryption?

In the digital world, many of us send and receive a lot of information through the internet using devices. Some information may be confidential like passwords, portfolio of designs like Mehndi Design, documents and financial information. When such information is tampered with, it can cause a problem and lead to serious disruption of privacy. To protect this vital information, encryption is in place. Encryption converts sent data into an indecipherable format. This format ensures that no third party is able to access or read the information. The transmitted data can only be decrypted by the receiver. Encryption does not mean that a sad status you posted converts to a happy status. A message like “This is an encrypted message” might look like “gjadbr + jsdn5dfkg / c76hg”. As you can see, this encrypted message cannot be discovered.

How does end-to-end encryption work?

The end-to-end encrypted message ensures that the message can only be read by the sender and recipient. No one, including the messaging system you use to transfer end-to-end encrypted messages, can read the message. The message is encrypted directly in the sender’s device and it is only decrypted on the recipient’s device. In short, encrypted messages can only be encrypted or decrypted at endpoints.

How secure is end-to-end encrypted security?

End-to-end encrypted messages provide an additional layer of security for users against hackers and other spying parties. When the encryption and decryption that occurs at the endpoint is undoubtedly protecting private information. Encrypted messages are much more beneficial than clear text which is not encrypted at all. End-to-end encryption is much better than in-transit encryption which provides the encryption key to the server and it is a flaw that can be easily exploited by malicious actors. Therefore, it is important to support end-to-end encryption that intercepts the message between the source and the destination.

Even though end-to-end encrypted messages are secure, this poses few problems. For example, end-to-end encryption hides the message content but the message metadata is still visible. This means that even if a message is end-to-end encrypted, it can be seen who you sent the message to and when. Additionally, the email application that supports end-to-end encryption does not provide the same level of backup security. For example, WhatsApp, which provides end-to-end encryption, by default does not provide security for WhatsApp chat backup which mainly takes place on Google Drive for Android phone and iCloud for iPhones. When backups are not encrypted, they become vulnerable to access by others.

Which applications support end-to-end encryption?

Many email applications support end-to-end encryption. Some messaging apps that support this layer of protection include Signal Private Messenger, Wire, Threema, Telegram, WhatsApp, Wickr Me, Viber, Silence, iMessage, and Silence.

When choosing a messaging app, make sure it supports end-to-end encryption, multi-mode communication like voice, text and video messages, and syncing across different platforms and devices like mobiles , desktops, and the web. Additional features which are good to have included an open source messaging system and destructive messages. It should be verified by the user whether the backup is encrypted or not. If the backups are not encrypted, you must support message security and protection. WhatsApp currently even supports end-to-end encrypted backup, but the corresponding setting must be manually allowed by users. If you are using other messaging app, check whether the chat backup can be encrypted directly from the messaging app or not. Otherwise, find ways to protect the chat backup.

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