WhatsApp will now give users the ability to encrypt their chat backups. This is an important step towards user security as private chats on the app are often compromised.
WhatsApp to Roll Out Encryption Feature
WhatsApp has had end-to-end encrypted chats between its two billion users for years now. However, users have had no option but to store their backups to either their iCloud on Apple or Google Drive on Android unencrypted.
Going through unencrypted WhatsApp chat backups is one of the ways that law enforcement agencies get to access the chats of suspect individuals. Not to mention, hackers can easily access the unencrypted chats on a victim's phone.
Now, the Facebook-owned company is correcting that loophole, according to Wired.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, wrote in a post that WhatsApp would become the first messaging service in the world that will offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups.
The company adjusted the app's entire framework to fix the key storage and cloud storage, according to TechCrunch.
Storing Your Encryption Keys
The company said it had created a new system that would enable users to lock their backups with encryption keys for security.
The company says it will offer its users new ways to encrypt their cloud backups, and accessing the feature is optional.
In the next few weeks, users will be given an option to create a 64-digit encryption key. This will lock the backup in the storage.
Users can store the encryption key offline, or they can be stored in a password manager.
Users can also create a password that backs up their encryption key, according to Engadget.
The encryption key can't be accessed without the password. The password can't be retrieved by WhatsApp.
WhatsApp stated that they know some users would prefer the 64-digit encryption key while others may prefer something easy to remember. This is why the app will add both of these options to the system.
As soon as a user sets their backup password, WhatsApp won't know about it. Users can reset the password on their device if they ever forget about it.
Once the key is created, the app will notify users numerous times when they sign up for the encrypted backups. If they lose their key, WhatsApp will not be able to restore the backup, which is why users need to write it down.
Before the setup is done, WhatsApp will ask users to affirm that they have saved the password or the encryption key. As soon as the encryption is created, the previous copies will automatically be deleted.
The decision to add this feature is important and one that could have implications in the future.
End-to-end encryption remains a sensitive topic of discussion as governments continue to lobby for any backdoor.
In August, WhatsApp declined Facebook's request to scan messages as it wanted to protect the user's privacy.
Apple was supposed to add encryption to its system to protect iCloud Backups but eventually changed its mind after the FBI pressured it not to go through with the plan.
On the other hand, Google has offered its users the ability to encrypt their data stored in Google Drive, and the company rolled out the feature without telling the government.
Related Article: Encryption War: WhatsApp Is The Next Target Of US Government
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Written by Sophie Webster