End-To-End Encryption: All That You Need To Know (2024)

Today, end-to-end encryption is a hot topic. Over the past few years, major communication apps such as Zoom and social media platforms like Facebook have introduced end-to-end encryption to their services to ensure secure communications. But what exactly is end-to-end encryption? How does it work, and why is it so important? Well, today we're taking a deep dive into all things end-to-end encryption.

What is end-to-end encryption (E2EE)?

Whenever you send a text message, an email, or other type of private data over the internet, all that information is vulnerable to cyber threats, including theft. Your data passes through servers, routers, and other network devices, which all can be intercepted by a bad actor looking to steal that information. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) comes into play to ensure the security of your data in transit.

Essentially, end-to-end encryption is a method of scrambling data so that it can only be read on two ends — by the sender and the recipient. A message protected with E2EE is unreadable to any outside party, even if that party can compromise and intercept communications. When E2EE is applied, it turns the message's plaintext into ciphertext, which can only be decrypted with the recipient's key. Essentially, end-to-end encryption ensures that two parties can communicate securely over the internet.

The security behind end-to-end encryption comes from the creation of a public-private key pair. This process, known as asymmetric cryptography, uses separate cryptographic keys for encrypting and decrypting the data. Public keys are primarily used to encrypt data, while private keys are only available to the owner and are used to decrypt the data.

Why is end to end encryption important?

End-to-end encryption plays a pivotal role in modern cybersecurity because it provides a secure and efficient method to transmit sensitive information. By encoding data in a manner accessible only by the sender and recipient, end-to-end encryption is able to safeguard personal and business communications and information exchanges from unauthorized access, theft, surveillance, and tampering. The increase in sophisticated and frequent cyber attacks makes end-to-end encryption more necessary than ever. For businesses, end-to-end encryption is imperative if they wish to comply with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA and is a critical component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to prevent data breaches and mitigate the consequences of financial losses, legal penalties, and damage to reputation.

How does end-to-end encryption work?

End-to-end encryption is considered asymmetric encryption, also referred to as public-key cryptography. Asymmetric encryption encrypts and decrypts data using two cryptographic keys: public and private keys. The public key is used to encrypt the data and the private key to decrypt. As the name suggests, the private key is designed to remain private so only the targeted recipient would be able to decipher the data.

End-To-End Encryption: All That You Need To Know (1)

End-to-end encryption example applications

End-to-end encryption has a variety of use cases, all of which ensure the security of data during communication or storage. Here are some of the most common applications of end-to-end encryption.

Secure communications

Messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Telegram, or Signal use end-to-end encryption to ensure private communication between their users. The same can be said about email communications.

Data storage

Various data storage devices incorporate encryption to ensure the utmost security of stored data. Usually, when we talk about encryption on a device level, we talk about encryption at rest, which means that the data is encrypted on the device and not in transit.

Password management

Password managers such as NordPass employ end-to-end encryption to ensure the security of all the passwords you store in the vault. At NordPass, we use zero-knowledge encryption, ensuring that only the user can access their vault.

Advantages and challenges of end-to-end encryption

As with any technology, end-to-end encryption has advantages and disadvantages that must be considered.


  • No one except the sender and the recipient, who have the appropriate public and private keys, can view the contents of a message. For example, if the email service provider happens to be hacked, cybercriminals will not be able to decrypt the data within because they will lack the decryption key.

  • Protects against tampering with encrypted messages. End-to-end encrypted messages can't be altered or edited in any way. If a third party makes alterations, the receiver of the messages is notified.

  • Helps with data privacy, security regulations, and compliance. Today almost all industries are limited by regulatory compliance, which means that organizations must conform to specific security standards. Thanks to E2EE, businesses can ensure the security of their communications.

  • Users can enable or disable end-to-end encryption for messages sent via the Android messaging system, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and other popular messaging apps.


  • Metadata, which includes information about the message, such as date, participants, and the time it was sent, remains visible to the public. Even though metadata does not contain the contents of the message, it could provide directions for bad actors looking to intercept the communications.

  • Endpoints can be compromised. If an endpoint is compromised, an attacker can have a full view of the communications stream before the message is even encrypted. Compromised endpoints are infamous for being essential to a man-in-the-middle attack.

  • Too much privacy. Yes, you read that right. Sometimes there can be too much privacy, or at least that is the view of law enforcement agencies. Governments and other regulatory bodies often express concerns about E2EE, noting that it can protect people engaged in illegal activities.

Can end-to-end encryption be hacked

Unfortunately, everything, including end-to-end encryption, can be hacked. It is just a matter of time. The great thing about end-to-end encryption is that even though it can be hacked, it would take hundreds if not thousands of years to do so. Instead of dedicating centuries' worth of resources, hackers prefer to steal encryption keys or intercept data before encryption or after decryption.

End-to-end encryption standards

Encryption standards and regulations are continually evolving to keep pace with technological advances and the ever changing threat landscape.

In the United States, end-to-end encryption is regulated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The regulations set forth by the ITAR regulations require organizations to use encryption algorithms that meet the necessary data security requirements.

One of the encryption standards used to comply with ITAR is the National Security Agency's (NSA) Suite B. The Suite B encryption algorithms are widely used by government agencies and other organizations to secure sensitive information. The NSA’s Suite B encryption standards are recognized as a robust and secure method for protecting data. The Suite B encryption standards were last updated in 2020. The NSA regularly reviews and updates the standards to ensure they remain effective against evolving threats.

Another encryption standard widely adopted in the U.S. is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The AES is another widely used encryption algorithm. It is recognized as a strong and secure encryption standard due to its high level of security and ease of use. The balance between security and efficiency is what makes AES encryption so popular. The AES uses a symmetric key algorithm, which means that the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the data, which is why this type of encryption is so fast and efficient.

In addition to the encryption standards mentioned above, there are several other encryption standards used in the U.S. that are worth mentioning. For instance, the RSA encryption algorithm is commonly used to secure internet communications, such as email. Another commonly used encryption standard is the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). ECDSA is a public key cryptography system that is used to secure digital signatures.

End-to-end encryption and NordPass Business

End-to-end encryption is an integral part of NordPass Business. Security is at the forefront of everything we do. Encryption ensures no sensitive data is exposed at any point. Our password manager for business is purpose-built to encrypt data locally and only then upload it to the cloud. NordPass employees cannot view or access your items — only you can. Thanks to E2EE, even if your data ends up in the wrong hands, the bad actors trying to access it will see nothing but gibberish.

Bottom line

End-to-end encryption is the central feature of what makes secure communications online possible. It makes us feel more confident and safe whenever we engage in an online conversation or send a few files over email. Despite its drawbacks, E2EE is currently the most secure way to send and receive data. As we continue to move more of our lives online, encryption will only become a more significant concern.

End-To-End Encryption: All That You Need To Know (2024)


End-To-End Encryption: All That You Need To Know? ›

End-to-end encryption is an encryption standard that focuses on protecting the exchange of data from device to device. Data is encrypted on the sender's device and is only ever decrypted on the recipient's device. This is unlike traditional encryption practices that focus on safeguarding data in transit.

What does it mean when WhatsApp says messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted? ›

Personal messaging. WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption is used when you chat with another person using WhatsApp Messenger. End-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you're communicating with can read or listen to what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.

Why can't I verify end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp? ›

All WhatsApp chats are encrypted by default, but you have to manually scan a QR code or compare a 60-digit numeric code if you want to verify encryption in a conversation.

What does it mean when Messenger says messages and calls are secured with end-to-end encryption? ›

The content of your messages and calls in end-to-end encrypted conversations is protected from the moment it leaves your device to the moment it reaches the receiver's device. This means that nobody else can see or listen to what's sent or said - not even Meta.

What happens if I turn off end-to-end encryption? ›

Turning off encryption will allow all of⁣ your‌ phone's features to work as intended. Faster Phone Performance: With a smartphone's storage encrypted, the‍ device ​can take a few seconds longer to perform functions.

How to disable end-to-end encryption on Android messages? ›

Open the Google Messages application then go to your icon picture in the top right hand corner, then click on it then go to Message settings then to to General, then go to RCS chat then the 2nd setting in that menu will be to turn off RCS.

How to open end-to-end encrypted messages? ›

Verify encryption.
  1. Open the Google Messages app .
  2. Open a group conversation you want to use. In the conversation, all participants must have RCS chats turned on. ...
  3. At the top right of the conversation window, tap More. Group details.
  4. Select a conversation participant you want to verify.
  5. Tap More. Verify encryption.

Why do some chats have end-to-end encryption? ›

End-to-end encryption helps protect your privacy by ensuring no one sees your messages except you. Think of it as an extra layer of security that keeps your messages and calls with family and friends protected, from the moment they leave your device, to the moment they reach the receiver's device.

Does end-to-end encryption mean you're blocked? ›

When you send a message in an end-to-end encrypted conversation, your device locks the message as it's sending. This message can only be unlocked by a device that has one of the keys for that conversation. No one can access your messages or calls except the people with the keys.

Should I enable end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp? ›

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption for all personal messages that you send and receive. This makes sure that only you and the person you're talking to can read or listen to them. With end-to-end encrypted backup, you can add that same layer of protection to your iCloud and Google Account backups.

Can you remove end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp? ›

The End-to-end encryption in WhatsApp chats is not possible to remove. Since it is a fundamental security feature of the platform.

Can end-to-end encryption be hacked? ›

Vulnerability to Compromised Endpoints: End-to-end encryption relies on the endpoints' security — the devices used by the sender and recipient — to encrypt and decrypt the data. If either endpoint is compromised through malware, hacking, or physical access, it can undermine the effectiveness of end-to-end encryption.

What is the meaning of messages are end-to-end encrypted? ›

End-to-end encryption is a security method that keeps your communications secure. With end-to-end encryption, no one, including Google and third parties, can read eligible messages as they travel between your phone and the phone you message.

How to fix end-to-end encryption in Messenger? ›

Reset my security method for end-to-end encryption on Messenger
  1. Tap , then tap Settings.
  2. Tap Privacy & safety.
  3. Tap End-to-end encrypted chats, then tap Secure storage.
  4. Tap Delete secure storage and follow the on-screen prompt to confirm.
  5. Tap Turn on secure storage and select a new security method.

How do I turn off the security check on Messenger? ›

To turn off end-to-end encryption on the Messenger app for Android phones, follow these steps: Step 1: Open the Messenger app and tap the Settings icon in the upper right corner of the phone screen. Scroll down to find and select Privacy and safety. Step 2: Here, click on end-to-end encrypted chat.

How do I set my message to disappear in a Messenger end-to-end encrypted conversation? ›

Set messages to disappear in a Messenger end-to-end encrypted...
  1. From Chats, tap on the secret conversation.
  2. At the top of your chat, tap the person's name or the group chat name.
  3. Tap Disappearing messages.
  4. Select when you want messages to disappear from the chat after they've been seen.

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