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WhatsApp is testing end-to-end encrypted chat backups

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Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has announced in a blog post that it is planning to give its users the option to protect their chats using end-to-end encryption. What this essentially means is that the same technology that protects your chats from being read by anyone other than the sender or receiver will now be available for chat backups.

This is yet another welcome development from WhatsApp adding on to reports that the company is working on an in-app feature to convert voice notes into text.

Chat backups, as I am sure you are aware, are done via cloud services like Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud. Meaning the security of those records is ensured by the cloud storage provider. What WhatsApp is aiming to do now is to give its users the option to add encryption keys or passwords to those backups.

The system works with E2EE (end-to-end encryption) keys which will either be a 64-digit generated code or one set by the user before the backup goes to the cloud.

Once the encryption is enabled, neither WhatsApp nor your cloud storage provider will be able to access them. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encrypted backups will also feature protections against brute force attacks, similar to how you have a limited number of attempts to enter your bank account PIN code.

A couple of things you’ll need to keep in mind about WhatsApp’s encrypted backups:

  • Users making use of multiple device logins, will only be able to set encrypted backups on the primary device.
  • If you choose to go the generated 64-digit key route over setting your own password, you will have to manually enter it when you want to access your backups.

Lastly, the feature is said to be hitting devices, both iOS and Android, in the coming weeks.

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