WhatsApp’s been on a bit of a role with beta updates recently. Just over a week ago, it added in the option to adjust the compression settings on images you want to share, and more recently it finally began beta testing the long-pined-for multi-device feature. Now, on a more technical front, the messaging app is testing out end-to-end encryption for your chat backups.
WhatsApp chat backups, now with 2 times the encryption
So, what does that mean in laymen’s terms? Well, you may already know that your messages, as well as WhatsApp calls, are end-to-end encrypted. From the moment you hit ‘send’ on a message it’s encrypted, and only the person you send it to has the encryption key. So only you two can ever see what your message contains.
Sounds great, right? Nice and secure, nice and private. Unfortunately, your chat backups saved neatly to the cloud-based storage of your choice (iCloud or Google Drive), do not get the same treatment. Up until now they’ve only received server-side encryption, which means that, hypothetically, the server provider could decrypt your backup and take a peek at your info.
If you’re privacy-conscious, and you should be, that might put you off a little bit. Fortunately, that should no longer be a concern soon enough.
The beta update, spotted (unsurprisingly) by the hard workers over at WABetaInfo began rolling out to beta testers a few days ago. Here’s how it works. Once the feature is enabled, you can create a password that will be used to encrypt your future backups. For maximum security, you’ll have to put in this password every time you want to restore a backup.
Your password is totally private. Facebook, Google, Whatsapp, and Apple won’t get a chance to peek at it. You can also use a generated 64-digit encryption key, but be warned that you won’t be able to restore your backups if you forget it.
As mentioned earlier, this feature has been in beta for a few days now. Chances are, it’ll hit mainstream WhatsApp users soon, so make sure your app is up to date if you want to make use of it. Unless you’ve moved on to another chat up, of course.