- WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users globally and over 400 million in India.
- The company devised a system to enable WhatsApp users to lock their chat backups with encryption keys.
- It will let users protect their chat backups from third parties.
While WhatsApp messages have been encrypted since 2016, the app hasn’t offered end-to-end encryption of backups, which rely on iCloud or Google Drive. But with the latest update, users will be able to opt-in to end-to-end encryption for their backups before those backups hit their cloud storage service.
Users on WhatsApp will see an option to generate a 64-digit encryption key to lock their chat backups in the cloud. Users can store the encryption key offline or in a password manager of their choice, or they can create a password that backs up their encryption key in a cloud-based “backup key vault” that WhatsApp has developed.
Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page:
“We’re adding another layer of privacy and security to WhatsApp: an end-to-end encryption option for the backups people choose to store in Google Drive or iCloud. WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and getting there was a really hard technical challenge that required an entirely new framework for key storage and cloud storage across the operating system.”
How end-to-end encryption works on Whatsapp?
When you use the Messages app to send end-to-end encrypted messages, all chats, including their text and any files or media, are encrypted as the data travels between devices. Encryption converts data into scrambled text. The unreadable text can only be decoded with a secret key.
A secret key is a number that’s:
- Created on your device and the device you message. It exists only on these two devices.
- Not shared with Google, anyone else, or other devices.
- Generated again for each message.
- Deleted from the sender’s device when the encrypted message is created, and deleted from the receiver’s device when the message is decrypted.
WhatsApp could use a new feature to reinforce its privacy stance and underline to its users that nobody can access their private messages, not even those within WhatsApp itself.
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