WhatsApp's got your back! A new feature is all set to safeguard users; here is how
After encrypted WhatsApp cloud backups, it looks like the messaging service might be working at securing local backups as well. Here’s everything you need to know about the new feature.
WhatsApp is the most widely used encrypted messaging service across the world, and the service is adding useful new features to ensure they do not migrate to nifty rivals like Telegram. The Facebook-owned chat app is currently working on features like multi-device support and sending ‘view once' images. WhatsApp is also working on a feature to migrate chats from iOS to Android. Now, it has been reported that WhatsApp is working on adding a new feature that will secure users' backups.
Recently, WhatsApp began testing a new feature that would allow users to encrypt their chats while they were backed up to Google Drive and iCloud. This is an important feature, because WhatsApp chats may be end-to-end encrypted, but the cloud backups are not at the moment. This means that malicious users could possibly gain access to users chats since they aren't encrypted after they are backed up. End-to-end encryption for backups on WhatsApp are designed to solve that problem, and it appears that it could be extending the same protection to local backups.
Noted feature leaker WABetaInfo spotted that the service is apparenty working on adding end-to-end encryption to local backups, just like the cloud backups that the company is currently testing. The website tweeted a screenshot of the chat backup screen on Android that shows both local and Google Drive backups as end-to-end encrypted.
🆕 WhatsApp is also working to bring end-to-end encrypted LOCAL backups on WhatsApp beta for Android!— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) August 3, 2021
They were working on E2EE backups on Google Drive, but they will extend the feature for local backups as well.
This feature will be available in a future update. pic.twitter.com/2YbulmqiUQ
It is important to note that local backups on WhatsApp are currently protected by your phone number, which means that anyone with a copy of your local ‘db.crypt' files will be able to restore a backup of your messages and read them -- if they can log in using an OTP from your phone number. That is why copying your local backup to a new phone allows you to restore your chats after verifying your phone number.
While the details of the feature are currently scarce, it appears that WhatsApp could also prompt users to enter a passcode or passphrase that will decrypt their local backups the same way it will decrypt their cloud backups with the upcoming end-to-end backups feature. However, WABetaInfo says that the feature is still being worked on and could be available in a future update, so users will simply have to wait for WhatsApp to add it to the beta version or finally bring it to the stable version once it is ready for general use.
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