End-to-end encryption for Google’s Communications app for Android is now available, which means that any messages you send are completely secure and cannot be intercepted by an unauthorized third party—including Google itself. So, if you’ve ever had the fear that you’re being watched, you can put that fear to rest today.
Google revealed in November 2020 that it was adding end-to-end encryption to its next-generation SMS system, RCS (Rich Communications Services), and released a private beta for testing. Google has already completed the test and is sending out support to everyone.
It’s a good idea to enable the Messages app if you use it. This is how.
How Does Encryption in Messages Work?
For those who are interested about how this works, when you use the Messages app to transmit any text or media, such as an image or a file, encryption scrambles the data before delivering it, making it unreadable.
The data can only be decoded with a secret key. This key is a unique number produced on both your and your recipient’s phones for each message. They are erased once they have been used to decode the communication.
All of this guarantees that outsiders cannot intercept and read your communications, leaving them exclusively available to their intended receiver. Unfortunately, the app’s encryption only works in one-on-one conversations, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for encryption to be incorporated in group chats.
Related: The New Android 12 Privacy Features Are Still Inadequate
Enable End-to-End Encryption in Messages
End-to-end encryption requires that both you and the person you’re chatting use the Messages app. The second need is that messages be in the RCS state. This implies that instead of SMS or MMS, communications are transmitted over Wi-Fi or data. You must have chat functionality enabled to do so.
To enable chat features, follow these steps:
- Open the Messages app.
- Tap the three-dot menu.
- Select Settings.
- Select Chat features.
- Tap Enable chat features.
The color of your messages indicates whether or not you have chat functionality activated. Text messages in the RCS state are dark blue, whereas SMS/MMS messages are light blue.
If end-to-end encryption is available in your conversation, it will be activated immediately, and you will see a banner that states “Chatting with [contact name or phone number].”
Simply glance at the submit button to see whether it’s active. Your communications are safe and secure if there is a lock next to it. A little lock will display next to the message’s timestamp and the banner indicating who you’re speaking with.
Each encrypted end-to-end chat includes a unique verification code, which must be the same for both you and your contact. If you want to go the additional mile and validate that code, you can.
To do so, launch a chat in the Messages app and tap More options > Details > Verify encryption at the top right of the discussion window. All you have to do now is phone your contact and ensure that they have the same code as you.
If you or your receiver disables chat features, all locks will be removed, so check for them before sending your next message.
Protect Yourself and Your Data
In today’s technological environment, security is the most important worry. With more and more individuals being victims of privacy breaches, it’s critical to remain vigilant and do all you can to protect yourself, and encrypting your communications is a good place to start.
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