End-to-end encryption (E2EE) has been receiving a lot of media attention lately. Suggestions by US government officials looking to ban E2EE raising supposed security concerns are certainly driving the discussion surrounding the technology. However, with many companies, including WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage, employing E2EE to protect customer’s privacy the technology is around to stay.
E2EE and why it’s important?
End-to-end encryption involves the encrypting of communications between users. In theory, the process prevents eavesdroppers from being able to take information from the messages sent by the parties using the encryption process while communicating. Most messaging services operate by having a third party act as an intermediary, meaning that the message is first sent to the intermediary and their servers and data storage than on to the recipient of the message. This gives hackers or governments a point where the message can be accessed if the message is encrypted the message cannot be read.
The privacy that E2EE encryption provides is the reason it has been such a vital technology that can be provided to customers. Although, many users hardly ever, if ever, think about it a lot of information can be stolen via our daily communications. By providing E2EE to customers of an SMS API platform, for example, a far more secure and safe user experience is guaranteed.
Providing E2EE for your App
With the recent developments surrounding E2EE and its adoption by major players in the tech industry, a lot of other developers have expressed interest in implementing the technology. However, for smaller companies looking to incorporate E2EE, there can be major stumbling blocks if wanting to develop the tech in house. This will require a significant budget and the hiring of skilled staff. This is not possible for small to medium enterprises.
Fortunately, security firms and other companies specializing in cryptography have developed components that can be added to apps. The service provided by these companies includes all the important features E2EE needs to ensure encryption and decryption are done properly and will not lead to insecure communications. These features include important components like CryptDB, Homomorphic Encryption, ZeroDB, and effective CRUD permissions.
In order to have secure communications between users that will not be subject to been stolen by hackers the components alluded to above need to be in place. But what are they and what purpose do they fill. CryptDB allows for the encryption of data sent but also allows for queries to be executed on the data. Homomorphic encryption is the process of encrypting data in a special way so that the server, which acts as the intermediary, can be acted upon by certain math operators so that data can be indexed correctly. A ZeroDB allows for the storing of encrypted data as well as the transmitting of the data when requested by a user.
These components only allow for the encryption and reading of encrypted data. Communications between users require a whole host of processes in order to provide E2EE to users’ communications, rather than encryption to small sections of data at a time. Ideally what is wanted is a CRUD (Create Read Update Delete) system and a system to handle the decryption keys otherwise users will just receive a message that might as well be written in Ancient Greek.
It is a complex task to develop E2EE in house, hence the need for security firms with the resources to provide a service that can be readily implemented into other developer’s apps. This approach enables app developers a certain level of “plug and play” when looking to secure their customers’ communications.
Despite continued pressure by certain governments to ban E2EE, it has proved to be a vital piece of technology to keep communication between parties secure. Given the benefits, it provides to customer bases it is little wonder app developers are looking to incorporate such technology to provide a safe and secure user experience.