As more and more people use digital platforms to manage their communications, security is becoming more of a concern. Modern service providers take digital communications and website security very seriously. And one of the methods to keep data safe is end-to-end encryption. Here is more about it.
What is end-to-end encryption?
When it comes to the file exchange of very sensitive information, data encryption is usually unavoidable. The data is protected against access by administrators, service providers, people added by mistake, or attackers.
Messengers are becoming more popular every day. To choose the safest service, you need to understand the mechanism of its operation. Although only a moment passes from the moment of sending to the moment of receiving the message, the information overcomes a long way created by the Internet provider and directly by the messenger company. The safest way to send a message is when no one but two users can read the message. This method is called end-to-end encryption and is that only users in the dialog have access (encryption keys) to the information sent. Encrypted messages work by scrambling information so that only the person with the “key” can read it to open and decrypt the information.
Encryption is a data protection technique that converts information (called “plaintext”) into an encrypted form (“ciphertext”). Such a ciphertext is almost impossible to crack without a “key”. For example, product companies use encryption to protect the passwords of their users. In messengers, end-to-end encryption allows you to hide the contents of chats for everyone, except for the recipient to whom the message was intended.
Without end-to-end encryption, messengers can receive, read and store the contents of a message before it is delivered to the recipient. Theoretically, such an application has access to all correspondence and conversations of a person. This information can be used for various purposes, such as setting up targeted advertising. End-to-end encryption ensures that no one except the sender and recipient has access to the content of the correspondence.
How to protect data with end-to-end encryption?
The vast majority of information security professionals recognize end-to-end encryption as the most robust method of information protection. It is designed to hide sent information from third-party access using cryptographic locks. To receive the message, each user has a special key that allows you to decrypt the received data. Thanks to end-to-end encryption technology, even the servers through which it passes cannot access the information being transmitted.
Therefore, companies that use end-to-end encryption are unable to disclose user data even at the request of the authorities. Such protection of privacy can be especially important for activists, journalists, oppositionists, and so on. End-to-end encryption is implemented in many well-known applications: Telegram, Signal, WhatsApp, ProtonMail, Bitwarden, MEGA (although it is not always set by default). Edward Snowden gave an important impetus to the public debate on the use of end-to-end encryption after his escape in 2014.
Messengers that use end-to-end encryption
Messengers with end-to-end encryption of messages, audio, and video calls:
- WhatsApp – a free application owned by Facebook, which has access to phone numbers and user details.
- Signal is also a free, but completely safe application. However, it does not support the transfer of animated smilies
- Threema is a paid application, but you can use it even without a phone number, and each chat can be protected with a separate password.
- Telegram – contains end-to-end encryption only in secret chats that you need to create yourself.
- Wire – a paid application with the ability to use 8 devices simultaneously.