WhatsApp said it is offering its two billion users the ability to encrypt chat backups on the cloud.
The platform took this step to block one of the hard ways in which private communication between individuals can be violated through the application.
The Facebook-owned service has been holding end-to-end encrypted conversations between users for over a decade. But users had no choice but to store the chat backup via the cloud in an unencrypted format.
Leveraging unencrypted WhatsApp chat backups via Google and Apple servers is one of the widely known methods that have allowed law enforcement agencies around the world to access the conversations of suspicious individuals.
“WhatsApp is the first global messaging service on this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backup,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. in a post on the blog announcing the new feature.
“Getting here is a difficult technical challenge,” he added. It required a new one framework for basic storage and cloud storage between operating systems.
The company said it has devised a system to allow its users on Android and iOS to lock chat backups with encryption keys.
Also Read: How Facebook undermines privacy protection for WhatsApp users
WhatsApp offers encrypted backups in the cloud
The platform claims it offers users two ways to encrypt cloud backups, and the feature is optional.
In the coming weeks, platform users will see an option to generate a 64-digit encryption key to block cloud chat backups.
Users can store the encryption key offline or in a password manager of their choice, or they can create a password that supports their encryption key in a cloud-based backup keystore developed by the company.
The encryption key stored in the cloud cannot be used without the user’s password, which the company does not know.
“We know that some prefer the 64-digit encryption key, while others want something they can remember easily,” WhatsApp said. So we include both options.
Once an encrypted backup is created, the previous versions of the backups are deleted. This happens automatically and there is no action for the user to take.
The move to introduce this extra layer of privacy is significant and could have far-reaching implications. End-to-end encryption remains a thorny topic of discussion as governments continue to push for backdoors.
Apple has reportedly come under pressure not to add encryption to iCloud backups following a complaint from the FBI. And while Google offered users the ability to encrypt their stored data in Google Drive, the company allegedly didn’t tell governments before rolling out the feature.
“People’s messages are very personal,” WhatsApp said. Because we live more than our life online, we believe that companies should improve the security they provide to their users. Through this feature, we give our users the ability to add this extra layer of security to their backups if they wish.
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