What Is End To End Encryption and How Does It Work?

End to end encryption refers to applying encryption to all messages on a specific device, when the device it is directly sent to can decrypt it. The message should travel in encrypted form from the device of the sender straight to the device of the receiver.


Who Uses End To End Encryption?


End to end encryption is used by many online applications and communications services. Popular services which use end to end encryption include Zoom and WhatsApp. They have implemented the use of end to end encryption services in order to ensure that data cannot be accessed and read by anyone other than the recipient.

This should mean that messages are both sent and received securely and should help prevent hackers from accessing sensitive or confidential information only intended for a specific audience. According to ExpressVPN, encryption can be used in a variety of ways, including to protect data in sensitive areas like healthcare and finance and banking to good and necessary effect.


How Does End To End Encryption Work?


End to end encryption works by scrambling messages transmitted from one device to another and subsequently decoding them when they reach the device of the intended recipient. This is usually done by a program installed on a device which will provide the user with both a private and a public key.

These keys are cryptographic and serve different purposes. Private keys decrypt messages sent to a specific device and should not be shared with another individual. Public keys can be shared between multiple people who can use it to encrypt messages to one another. This public key should only be shared between those who want to use it to communicate and who all have the right to access the same information.

What Does End To End Encryption Protect Against?


The main purpose of end to end encryption is to prevent sensitive information transmitted between a sender and receiver being accessed. This is to ensure the privacy of communication for both parties, and is especially useful when private files, documents or information are being transmitted from one device to another.

Another major advantage of end to end encryption is that messages cannot be altered before they reach the recipient. This means that any message or information transmitted by a sender should not be edited, and the recipient should access it in it’s original form.

This therefore maintains the integrity of information transmitted, and messaging applications tend to offer this feature automatically.


What Does End To End Encryption Not Protect Against?


End to end encryption does not conceal all activity, only the content within the message transmitted between one device and another. This means that which device the message was sent from and which device the message is sent to is not concealed, even though the content contained within a message should be encrypted.

In addition to this, the message will only be encrypted whilst it travels through a server, and is not encrypted when it is received by the other device. This means that if a device is lost or stolen, whoever finds the device should easily be able to access any messages transferred between that device and another. Messages will not remain encrypted once they have been received, and they will never appear as encrypted on the sender’s device.

As a consequence of this, devices should usually be fitted with a form of antivirus software. This will ensure that data cannot be accessed through the use of malware and maintains the integrity pf the sender and the recipient.

End to end encryption is the most secure way to protect against data being accessed by a third party, although it does have limitations. Devices containing sensitive data, information or communications should always be fitted with additional security measures such as passwords or face recognition to ensure that if a device is lost or stolen, the damage can be limited.


What Are The Alternatives To End To End Encryption?


The simplest alternative to end to end encryption is simply not to encrypt any messages sent. This is a possibility as not all messages are sent with end to end encryption. The risk involved with this is that anyone can intercept data transmitted from one device to another, and therefore the information may end up in the hands of an individual who was not intended to receive it.

In addition to this, encryption in transit can be used in place of end to end encryption. This means that all messages which are sent will be encrypted on the sender’s end. After this takes place, messages should be delivered to the server before they are decrypted and subsequently re-encrypted. They are then delivered to the intended recipient and finally decrypted meaning that they will be able to read them.

Using encryption in transit means that the information is protected whilst it is transmitted between devices, meaning nobody should be able to access it between the sender and the recipient. In spite of this, the server will be able to see the content being transmitted, so it is not always deemed as secure as using end to end encryption.

Another risk associated with using encryption in transit is that information can be stored on a server. They can also connect additional participants using alternative conversation channels such as joining video conferences through a mobile.

Encryption in transit does ensure that information cannot be accessed by anyone other than the sender, recipient or server, so it is much more secure than not encrypting messages at all.