WhatsApp on Thursday started rolling out end-to-end encryption for backups stored on Google Drive and iCloud. The rollout has started months after the Facebook-owned company tested the update internally. Last month, WhatsApp announced that it would start rolling out end-to-end encrypted cloud backups for Android and iOS users. The opt-in feature will help users protect their backups from being accessed by third parties including cloud storage providers such as Google and Apple. It is also claimed to protect chat history stored in backups from WhatsApp.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the rollout of end-to-end encryption for cloud backups through a post on his page. The feature will be rolled out globally for both Android and iOS users in a gradual manner to provide an additional layer of protection to backups stored in the cloud.
Since 2016, WhatsApp has provided end-to-end encryption by default for messages circulating on its platform. The company claims that the advanced encryption protects over 100 billion messages a day as they travel between more than two billion users globally.
WhatsApp users, however, also found the need for the same level of encryption for chat history and other content backed up in the cloud that is available on the app. That resulted in the launch of end-to-end encryption for cloud backups.
“If someone chooses to backup 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. Neither WhatsApp nor the backup service provider (like Apple) will be able to access their end-to-end encryption key or their end-to-end encrypted backup,” the company said.
How to enable end-to-end encryption for WhatsApp backups
WhatsApp is currently rolling out end-to-end encryption for cloud backups on both Android and iOS devices. Make sure that you are on the latest version of WhatsApp to get the update.
Unlike the existing end-to-end encryption that is available by default, you need to manually enable end-to-end encryption for cloud backups. You can do so by going to Settings > Chats > Chat Backups > End-to-End Encrypted Backups and then follow the prompts on the screen. You will be required to create a password for your backup. Alternatively, you can use a 64-bit encryption key.
Once the on-screen steps are completed, tap Done and wait for WhatsApp to prepare your end-to-end encrypted backup. You might need to connect your phone to a power source as the encryption will require some local resources of the device.
It is important to note that you won’t be able to restore your end-to-end encrypted backup if you forget your password or key.
WhatsApp promised to enable end-to-end encrypted cloud backups last month. It was also earlier this month spotted testing end-to-end encrypted cloud backups on Android and iOS.