October 29, 2021

WhatsApp enables end-to-end encrypted backups with users own password

WhatsApp makes it possible to encrypt backups of conversations end-to-end. By means of a code of 64 digits or a password of their choice, users can protect their cloud backup from WhatsApp, but also Google and Apple.

The new option should ensure that neither WhatsApp nor the host of the conversation backup can view the user’s chats, the chat service explains in a blog post and further explanatory white paper . Users who back up conversations on Android and iOS do so in Google Drive and iCloud clouds, respectively. Until now, it was only possible to encrypt the conversations themselves end-to-end, while backups could be seen by Google and Apple. WhatsApp is slowly rolling out the optional new feature to all users on Android and iOS in the coming weeks. Unlike regular end-to-end encryption , encryption of backups is limited to one main device.

Users have the option to enable end-to-end encryption of backups, but they are responsible for retaining the password. In case of losing the 64 digit code, there is no way to recover the encrypted data. When the user chooses their own password, WhatsApp itself creates a linked key code that is stored offline in a physical safe of Facebook. According to the chat service, no one can access the key without permission, only the user, provided they can prove that the account is indeed theirs. The user can then create a new password for the corresponding decryption key.

This summer, WhatsApp began testing the feature in question. Then it turned out that the encryption of data is applied exclusively to conversations, not to multimedia. In addition, there are still ways for WhatsApp, for example, to view your end-to-end encrypted messages. Earlier it turned out that the chat service has roughly a thousand employees who can still see five end-to-end encrypted messages when someone reports a conversation.

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