Privacy and security is in our DNA, which is why we have end-to-end encryption in the latest versions of our app. When end-to-end encrypted, your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, status updates and calls are secured from falling into the wrong hands.
End-to-end encryption is available when you and the people you message are on the latest versions of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you're communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. Your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read your message. For added protection, every message you send has a unique lock and key. All of this happens automatically: no need to turn on settings or set up special secret chats to secure your messages.
Important: End-to-end encryption is always activated, provided all parties are using the latest version of WhatsApp. There is no way to turn off end-to-end encryption.
Each of your chats has its own security code used to verify that your calls and the messages you send to that chat are end-to-end encrypted.
Note: The verification process is optional and is used only to confirm that the messages you send are end-to-end encrypted.
This code can be found in the contact info screen, both as a QR code and a 60-digit number. These codes are unique to each chat and can be compared between people in each chat to verify that the messages you send to the chat are end-to-end encrypted. Security codes are just visible versions of the special key shared between you - and don't worry, it's not the actual key itself, that's always kept secret.
If you and your contact are physically next to each other, one of you can scan the other's QR code or visually compare the 60-digit number. If you scan the QR code, and the code is indeed the same, a green checkmark will appear. Since they match, you can be sure no one is intercepting your messages or calls.
If the codes do not match, it's likely you're scanning the code of a different contact, or a different phone number. If your contact has recently reinstalled WhatsApp, or switched devices, we recommend you refresh the code by sending them a new message and then scanning the code.
Learn more about security codes changing in this FAQ article.
If you and your contact are not physically near each other, you can send them the 60-digit number. Let your contact know that once they receive your code, they should write it down and then visually compare it to the 60-digit number that appears in the contact info screen under Encryption. For Android, iPhone and Windows Phone, you can use the Share button from the QR code/60-digit number screen to send the 60-digit number via SMS, email, etc.
Security is essential to the service WhatsApp provides. We completed the implementation of end-to-end encryption in 2016 for all messaging and calling on WhatsApp so that no one, not even us, has access to the content of your conversations. Since then, digital security has become even more important. We've seen multiple examples where criminal hackers illegally obtained vast sums of private data and abused technology to hurt people with their stolen information. So as we’ve introduced more features – like video calling and Status – we’ve extended end-to-end encryption to these features as well.
WhatsApp has no ability to see the content of messages or listen to calls on WhatsApp. That’s because the encryption and decryption of messages sent on WhatsApp occurs entirely on your device. Before a message ever leaves your phone, it is secured with a cryptographic lock, and only the recipient has the keys. In addition, the keys change with every single message that is sent. While all of this happens behind the scenes, you can confirm your conversations are protected by checking the security verification code on your device. You can find more details about how this works in our white paper.
Naturally, people have asked what end-to-end encryption means for the work of law enforcement. WhatsApp appreciates the work that law enforcement agencies do to keep people safe around the world. We carefully review, validate, and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and policy, and we prioritize responses to emergency requests. As part of our education efforts, we published information for law enforcement about the limited information we collect and how they can make requests of WhatsApp, which you can read here.
For more information, please read WhatsApp Security.