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WhatsApp to get password-protected, encrypted chat backups soon

WhatsApp is reportedly working on password-protected encrypted chat backups that will make your cloud backups more secure.

WhatsApp has warned all users earlier that while the chats are end-to-end encrypted, this protection does not extend to online backups on Google Drive and iCloud.
WhatsApp has warned all users earlier that while the chats are end-to-end encrypted, this protection does not extend to online backups on Google Drive and iCloud. (Pixabay)

WhatsApp’s chats are encrypted and the app itself can be locked with a password, but we know that its cloud backups are neither encrypted nor protected, particularly when they are backed up on Google Drive. WhatsApp wants to change that and is reportedly working on increasing the security of its cloud backups by adding a password protection feature that is going to encrypt chat backups. This will make these backups accessible only to the user.

According to a WABetaInfo report, this new feature is in the works and was reported last year. Now, WABetaInfo has shared some screenshots that show how this could be presented on WhatsApp on iOS and Android.

One of the screenshots reads - “To prevent unauthorized access to your iCloud Drive backup, you can set a password that will be used to encrypt future backups”. “This password will be required when you restore from the backup” - reads another one. The app is going to ask the user to confirm their phone number and select a password that is at least eight characters long. Another screenshot adds that “WhatsApp will not be able to help recover forgotten passwords”.

WhatsApp’s chats are encrypted and the app itself can be locked with a password, but we know that its cloud backups are neither encrypted nor protected, particularly when they are backed up on Google Drive. WhatsApp wants to change that and is reportedly working on increasing the security of its cloud backups by adding a password protection feature that is going to encrypt chat backups. This will make these backups accessible only to the user.

According to a WABetaInfo report, this new feature is in the works and was reported last year. Now, WABetaInfo has shared some screenshots that show how this could be presented on WhatsApp on iOS and Android.

One of the screenshots reads - “To prevent unauthorized access to your iCloud Drive backup, you can set a password that will be used to encrypt future backups”. “This password will be required when you restore from the backup” - reads another one. The app is going to ask the user to confirm their phone number and select a password that is at least eight characters long. Another screenshot adds that “WhatsApp will not be able to help recover forgotten passwords”.

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WhatsApp has warned all users earlier that while the chats are end-to-end encrypted, this protection does not extend to online backups on Google Drive and iCloud. Once chats have been backed up on the cloud, the security of these depend upon the cloud service providers. There have been cases in the past when these chat backups have been made accessible to law enforcement authorities with valid search warrants.

Once WhatsApp’s new feature comes into use, backups being encrypted by passwords should theoretically stop anyone from being able to access your chats without your permission.

The latest information about this particular work-in-progress comes at a point when WhatsApp’s reputation has taken quite a hit thanks to its new privacy policy that has many people believing that WhatsApp may store more information with Facebook and also share chats with Facebook.

WhatsApp has categorically tried to clear the air and has tried to tell users that the new policy does not affect the security of personal messages that remain end-to-end encrypted. However, this has given other apps like Signal and Telegram a chance to flex their privacy features and get users.

While WhatsApp has not commented on this feature yet, WABetaInfo has a pretty good track record of unearthing features before they become official so they are probably right about this one too.

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