WhatsApp begins beta testing of feature to allow backup encryption on cloud, but for Android users only

By: |
July 18, 2021 2:29 PM

This feature is still in the testing phase, and whether it would be rolled out or not is undetermined yet.

This system has been enabled in the most recent WhatsApp update on Android platforms.

WhatsApp: Instant messaging platform WhatsApp has put in place end-to-end encryption so that the chats can remain private between the sender and the receiver. But is that sufficient? Currently, when WhatsApp data is backed to Google Drive or iCloud by a user, the backup is not encrypted, meaning that a search warrant can be issued by authorities to ask these cloud companies to hand over data access and they would have to, including these WhatsApp chats, which are not protected by encryption. However, rumour has it that the Facebook-owned company is now working on a technology to independently encrypt WhatsApp backups on the drive. Reports have further added that this system has been enabled in the most recent WhatsApp update on Android platforms – version 2.21.15.5 of the instant messaging platform.

Also read | WhatsApp beta testing multi-device support: How will it adapt its infrastructure to ensure end-to-end encryption?

At present a beta testing for the feature is ongoing. But as per our understanding of things, users would have an option of choosing to use this feature, which is understandable because there would be a major risk attached to it. Such an encryption would require a password or a 64-digit recovery key that would help in restoring the password, and anytime a person would want to restore their backup from the cloud, they would need to use this password or recovery key. While that makes sense, a major point is neither this password nor this key would be known to WhatsApp, Facebook, Apple or Google, which means that to restore this backup, the user would pretty much be on their own, and so, if they were to forget their password and lose the key, the backup would be lost forever, and not even WhatsApp would be able to help at all.

While this feature is still in testing phase, and whether it would be rolled out or not is undetermined yet, this feature would help users keep their WhatsApp chats and data private even when third parties like cloud companies are involved, and this would be a major step by WhatsApp at securing the user privacy after its end-to-end chat encryption.

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