While chats are end-to-end encrypted, their backups are not – this may change soon
WhatsApp is said to be working to add encryption for chat backups that will allow users to easily secure their conversations when storing them in the cloud.
While the company does currently offer end-to-end encryption for messages, calls and other forms of communication, thus making their content visible only to the sender and the recipient, the same protection doesn’t extend to the backups, stored on third-party platforms such as iCloud and Google Drive.
However, that may change soon according to WhatsApp tipster WABetaInfo, which shared four screenshots of the long-anticipated feature. Two screenshots showcase the iOS version while the rest display what the Android version may look like.
• The chat database is already encrypted now (excluding media), but the algorithm is reversible and it’s not end-to-end encrypted.
• Local Android backups will be compatible with this feature.
The chat DB and media will be encrypted using a password that only you know. https://t.co/WAliLUnF18
— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) March 8, 2021
“To prevent unauthorized access to your iCloud backup, you can set a password that will be used to encrypt future backups. This password will be required when you restore from the backup,” reads one screenshot of the setup process, which requires the user to confirm their choice by entering their phone number.
Meanwhile, a screenshot of the Android context window shows a warning by WhatsApp that forgotten passwords cannot be recovered. In translation, once you set up the password to encrypt your backups and store it in iCloud or Google Drive, you’d better remember the password – or use a password manager to do the work for you.
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There is no information on whether the feature will be available anytime soon since WhatsApp has remained silent on the subject and refused to confirm or deny if or when the feature will be released.