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WhatsApp Chat Backup Now Protected With End-to-end Encryption

After a long trial, WhatsApp has finally released end-to-end encryption for chat backups. With this feature, messages and user content that are backed up to the cloud will get extra protection.

Since 2016, messages sent via WhatsApp have been protected with end-to-end encryption, but this protection doesn't extend to messages backed up to Apple iCloud or Google Drive. Thanks to end-to-end encryption, messages and content that are backed up in the cloud cannot be read by anyone without the encryption key, including WhatsApp, Apple and Google.

WhatsApp Chat Backup Now Protected With End-to-end Encryption

"WhatsApp is the first global messaging service of this scale to offer end-to-end encryption for messages and backups, and achieving this is a very difficult technical challenge that requires a new framework for key storage and cloud storage across operating systems." said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his official statement, as quoted from The Verge, Saturday (10/9/2021).

When WhatsApp users enable the encrypted backup option, they will be prompted to save a 64-digit encryption key or create a password associated with the encryption key. This 64-digit encryption key can be stored offline or in a password manager.

If a user creates a password associated with their account's encryption key, WhatsApp will store the key in a security device module (HSM) managed by Facebook and can only be unlocked if the user enters the appropriate password. WhatsApp says they will not know this password.

The HSM acts as a vault for encrypting and decrypting digital keys. Once unlocked using a password, the HSM will provide an encryption key that can be decrypted in backups stored in iCloud or Google Drive.

But there are some things that users should pay attention to before enabling this feature. First, users will not be able to recover data that has been stored in the cloud if they lose the 64-digit encryption key. Fortunately, users can still reset the password if, for example, you forget it.

Also, although WhatsApp recently announced that it will support multiple devices at once, users will only be able to use encrypted backups on the primary device. WhatsApp says the encrypted backup feature will start rolling out to Android and iOS users worldwide in the next few weeks.

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