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WhatsApp to roll out end-to-end encryption for chat backups

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 12 September, 2021 12:00 AM
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WhatsApp to roll out end-to-end encryption for chat backups

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Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has announced to roll out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for chat backups in the upcoming update amid concerns over data privacy.

Currently, the WhatsApp data, including texts, photos and videos, are at risk of breaching during backup which raises privacy concern among over 2 billion users of the platform.

Its backup management relies on cloud-based services like Google Drive and iCloud.

The E2EE refers to a communication where only the communicating users can read the messages without any access to the conversation by the service provider.

In a recent statement, the platform claimed that with the end-to-end encrypted backups, no other messaging service at WhatsApp's scale will provide this level of security for people's messages.

The company said the upcoming update will be released in ‘coming weeks’ without mentioning any specific time.

"We’re announcing this now to provide the broader technical community with our approach before it's available to our beta testers and eventually everyday users," reads the statement.

If someone chooses to back up their chat history with end-to-end encryption, it will be accessible only to them, and no one will be able to unlock their backup, not even WhatsApp.

"This is really big privacy advancement, particularly at our scale of more than 2 billion users who send more than 100 billion messages a day," the company said.

WhatsApp new feature will be released as an optional feature and in the coming weeks, the instant messaging platform will be rolling this out to iOS and Android users.

With the introduction of end-to-end encrypted backups, WhatsApp has created an HSM (hardware security module) based backup key vault to securely store per-user encryption keys for user backups in tamper-resistant storage, thus ensuring stronger security of users’ message history.

With end-to-end encrypted backups enabled, before storing backups in the cloud, the client encrypts the chat messages and all the messaging data, including texts and photos and videos, are being backed up using a random key on the user’s device.

The key to encrypt the backup is secured with a user-provided password. The password is unknown to WhatsApp, the user’s mobile device cloud partners, or any third party.