If You Don't Use WhatsApp — or Even if You Do — Here are Some Things to Know About it. | speedster
Minutes Before the London terror attacker carried out the deadly rampage near Westminster Bridge, he used this app to communicate with an unknown contact. Susana Victoria Perez (@susana_vp) has more Buzz60
The assailant involved in last week's London terror attacks that killed four and wounded dozens more reportedly used WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned, encrypted messaging service.
Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she wants WhatsApp and other messaging services to make these platforms more accessible to authorities in cases like the London attack.
“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” she said in interviews Sunday. In a statement, WhatsApp said they were "horrified" by the attack and were "cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their investigations."
Because the app features encrypted messaging, officials are unable to access attacker Khalid Masood's last message or its recipient.
London terror attacker used WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app, before rampage
If you don't use WhatsApp — or even if you do — here are some things to know about it.
It's a very popular messaging app owned by Facebook
More than 1 billion people in over 180 countries use WhatsApp, created in 2009 as an alternative to text messaging. According to a May 2016 report from research firm SimilarWeb, WhatsApp is the top chat app in 109 countries, including Brazil, India, and the United Kingdom. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 to make a bigger play in the rapidly-growing messaging market, along with its own Messenger platform. At the time the deal was announced, WhatsApp had 450 million users worldwide.
WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption
While Apple was fighting the FBI last year over unlocking an iPhone used by assailants in the San Bernardino, Calif., attacks, WhatsApp rolled out end-to-end encryption. All messages sent through the platform are secured in a way that only the sender and the recipient can view the message. According to WhatsApp, not even they can hack their platform to view the message. Several other platforms including Apple's iMessage and Signal also use end-to-end encryption.
It also uses two-factor authentication
Like many other services such as Google and Facebook, WhatsApp uses two-factor verification, rolled out earlier this year. When enabled, a user must type in a second passcode — often a numeric code sent to the user's phone via text message — to access their account. If, say, a hacker were to gain access to a user's credentials, they would still need that second passcode to view the account or messages.