WhatsApp is rolling out end-to-end encrypted chat backups on iOS and Android to prevent anyone from accessing your chats, regardless of where they are stored.
Currently, WhatsApp allows you to create backups of all your chats and store them on online storage services. For iOS users, your backups are stored on iCloud, and for Android, they are stored on Google Drive.
While conversations on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted (e2ee), the backups stored on cloud services are not and could theoretically be accessed by anyone who has access to your phone or takes it over via a SIM swap attack.
By backing up your chats, if WhatsApp is ever installed again on your current device or a new one, the app will restore your backed-up chat messages.
WhatsApp gets end-to-end encrypted chat backups
Starting today, Facebook announced that WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature where you can perform end-to-end encryption of your chat backups, regardless of where they are stored.
While this feature is not rolled out to everyone yet, users will be able to assign a password that only they know to be used to encrypt backups before they are uploaded to iCloud or Google Drive.
“You can now secure your end-to-end encrypted backup with either a password of your choice or a 64-digit encryption key that only you know,” Facebook announced today.
“Neither WhatsApp nor your backup service provider will be able to read your backups or access the key required to unlock it.”
Users must also use this same password to restore any backups in the future, preventing them from being accessed by anyone else.
Facebook states that they are rolling this feature out slowly to those running the latest version of WhatsApp, so it may take some time before it reaches everyone.
When it is rolled out to your device, you can enable WhatsApp end-to-end encrypted backups using these steps:
- Open WhatsApp.
- Open Settings.
- Tap Chats > Chat Backup > End-to-end Encrypted Backup.
- Tap Continue, then follow the prompts and enter a password or key when asked.
- Tap Done, and wait for WhatsApp to prepare your end-to-end encrypted backup. While creating an encrypted backup, the app may prompt you to connect your device to power.
Once end-to-end encrypted backups are enabled, you will not be able to restore any backups to your device without knowing the password.
You can always disable this feature by going back into the End-to-end Encrypted Backup setting and turning it off.