By: William Cawley (@DigiTrey)
Ready for a round of good news/bad news?
Good news first.
Facebook just implemented encryption on their messaging application! This feature brings a strong, end-to-end, encryption to its over-a-billion users.
The bad news?
You probably had no idea.
Facebook has not been touting this new feature for a reason. They tend to get strong pushback from world governments when they start introducing the e-word to their applications.
For instance, one executive in Brazil was arrested in connection with encryption practices on Facebook-owned WhatsApp.
This is an opt-in feature, meaning you have to know it exists in order to implement it.
Also, it is not retroactive. All of your past messages are still unencrypted.
Better late than never, though. Start encrypting all of your messages now!
Want to know how to encrypt your Facebook messages?
It is simple. Just create a new message and click on “Secret” in the top right corner.
Easy as pie.
So you may be asking yourself, why should I use encryption on Facebook chat?
As pointed out by security expert Bruce Schneier, the more people who use encryption, the safer everyone is online.
Imagine you are a big-time, Ocean’s 11, type of thief. If you want to know which buildings are the ones most likely to have something valuable inside, you look for those with the most security.
Buildings with a safe in the lobby, security cameras in the bushes, and motion sensors near the receptionist are probably guarding something important.
However, what if every building had a safe, security cameras, and motion sensors?
The thieves would have to work harder to figure out which buildings to rob.
This applies to encryption as well. If everyone uses encryption, it ceases to be abnormal.
Suddenly, simple chatting is not any different from other activities like banking. Criminals will not know which communications are important.
This also, as Popular Mechanics put it, this approach makes government surveillance more difficult. Instead of being able to read all communications easily, surveillance teams would be forced to pick and choose specific targets.
With this in mind, start encrypting your Facebook messages.
Spread the word to your friends and family!
Make Facebook more secure.
Greenberg, A. (2016). You Can All Finally Encrypt Facebook Messenger, So Do It. WIRED. Retrieved https://www.wired.com/2016/10/facebook-completely-encrypted-messenger-update-now/
Connors, W. (2016). Facebook Executive Arrested in Brazil. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-executive-arrested-in-brazil-1456851506
Schneier, B. (2015). Why We Encrypt. Schneier on Security. Retrieved from https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/06/why_we_encrypt.html
Herkewitz, W. (2010). Why We Should Encrypt Everyone’s Email. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/security/how-to/a11196/why-we-should-encrypt-everyones-email-17162499/