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Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp today announced that it has turned on end-to-end encryption by default. That means content that people share, whether they be text messages, voice messages, photos, and videos, are now more secured.

Users will simply need to update to the latest version of WhatsApp to get the new encryption, according to a blog post.

“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to,” WhatsApp said. “No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private — sort of like a face-to-face conversation.”

Encryption continues to be trendy. The iMessage messaging protocol available on Apple’s iOS devices has had end-to-end encryption, and the encryption of an iPhone 5c was the subject of a recent standoff between Apple and the FBI. Bespoke encrypted messaging apps have also picked up traction. Telegram, which has an encrypted chat mode that users have to manually turn on for each chat, now has more than 100 million monthly active users.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for more than $16 billion. Now the service has more than 1 billion monthly active users.

Open Whisper Systems, which is behind the Signal encrypted messaging app, has been working with WhatsApp to enable encryption over the past several months. More detail on the encryption is available here (PDF).


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