Why You Should Care About This Huge WhatsApp Change

Over the past few months, phone security has been in the spotlight because of Apple's standoff against the FBI. While Apple contested that unlocking a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters would set a dangerous precedent, the government claimed that the tech giant was preventing access to essential information.

Although that battle ended last week when the FBI found a way to unlock the phone on its own, it sparked a whole new conversation around security that is unlikely to end anytime soon. The latest proof: the popular messaging service WhatsApp just announced that all communications through its app will now be encrypted.

So what does WhatsApp's change mean? Anything that you or anyone else sends through WhatsApp will be encoded, and only the intended recipient can read it. Software engineers at WhatsApp are, effectively, preventing any future legal battles of their own against the FBI, because not even they will be able to decode messages sent through the app.

The news is major because WhatsApp is widely accessed on an international basis for calls, texts, and photo and video sharing. While WhatsApp isn't incredibly popular in the U.S. (we use iMessage, SMS messages, and Facebook Messenger more often), it is the most popular messaging platform across the rest of the world. The app works over your phone's internet connection, and it's free to send messages; that's why it's great to use for texting when you're traveling abroad.

Some might claim this means terrorists around the world now have a way to send messages that governments can't track. But since cybercriminals already have other methods of sending encoded information, WhatsApp's decision is unlikely to enable terrorism. Instead, it's providing personal security for billions.

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