As online communication has become the primary mode of connection today, safeguarding privacy and security has become imperative. Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram offer end-to-end encryption to secure the messages of their users. However, recently, the CEO of WhatsApp Criticized Telegram for Misleading its Users. It has sparked a debate on the security and transparency of Telegram’s encryption.
What is End-to-End Encryption?
To understand how encryption works in messaging apps, let’s first define what end-to-end encryption is. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of securing data in transit, where only the sender and the intended recipient have access to the contents of the message. When the sender sends a message using E2EE, the message is encrypted on the sender’s device before being sent to the recipient. It remains encrypted until it is received and decrypted by the recipient’s device.
This means that even if someone intercepts the message during transmission, they will not be able to read it without the encryption key. The encryption key is only available to the sender and the recipient. E2EE is widely used in messaging apps, email services, and other applications to protect users’ privacy and security.
Is Telegram Really End-to-End Encrypted?
Telegram offers end-to-end encryption for its “secret chats,” which are one-on-one chats. These chats are initiated by the user and not synced to the cloud. End-to-end encryption is not enabled by default in Telegram. By default, Telegram’s chats are encrypted in transit, which means that the messages are encrypted between the user’s device and Telegram’s servers. However, once the message reaches Telegram’s servers, it is decrypted and stored in an unencrypted format. This means that Telegram can access the content of the messages. However, end-to-end encryption is not available for group chats on Telegram.
What does WhatsApp Offer in Terms of E2EE?
WhatsApp’s E2EE was implemented in 2016 and is based on the Signal Protocol, an open-source encryption protocol that has been independently audited for security. WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption for all of its messages, voice calls, and video calls. This means that only the sender and the intended recipient can access the contents of the messages.
When a user sends a message on WhatsApp, it is encrypted on the sender’s device before being sent It remains encrypted until it is received and decrypted by the recipient’s device. So even if someone intercepts the message during transmission, they will not be able to read it without the encryption key, which is only available to the sender and the recipient.
WhatsApp’s E2EE also extends to group chats, where all messages are encrypted between the sender and the recipients in the group. In addition, WhatsApp offers secure backups of messages, which are encrypted on the user’s device before being uploaded to the cloud.
CEO of WhatsApp about Telegram
Will Cathcart, the CEO of WhatsApp at Meta, criticized Telegram for misleading its users over its encryption in his recent tweet. He quoted an article by Wired and his own criticism of Telegram’s encryption implementation, which has not been independently verified. You can read his complete thread here.
Cathcart pointed out that Telegram is not end-to-end encrypted by default and offers no end-to-end encryption for group chats. He also claimed that Telegram has the capacity to share nearly any confidential information that a government requests.
This statement by Cathcart has raised questions about the security of Telegram’s encryption and the transparency of its policies. It has also highlighted the differences in the encryption policies of WhatsApp and Telegram.
WhatsApp vs Telegram
Cathcart’s criticism of Telegram centers around the fact that the app’s encryption is not applied by default to all messages. According to Cathcart, this means that Telegram is not being transparent with its users about the security of their messages. “The way Telegram is marketed is not as secure as it actually is,” he said. “They give a false sense of security. They’re not being honest.”
Telegram, on the other hand, claims that it offers a high level of security and transparency. The app has an open-source code, which means that anyone can review it and check the app’s security features. Telegram also offers features like “self-destructing messages,” which allows users to set a time limit for their messages, after which they will automatically disappear.
In conclusion, the debate between WhatsApp and Telegram over their encryption policies highlights the importance of transparency and security in online communication. While both apps offer end-to-end encryption, the differences in how encryption is implemented and the level of security it provides can significantly affect protecting users’ privacy. It is essential for messaging apps to be transparent about their encryption policies and for users to be informed about the level of security they are getting from these apps.