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WhatsApp adds end-to-end encryption to chat backups, no matter where they're stored

Whatsapp Group Message on iPhone X
Whatsapp Group Message on iPhone X (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz/iMore)

What you need to know

  • WhatsApp has enabled end-to-end encryption for chat backups.
  • Users can create a password or 64-bit key to protect their backup.
  • Encryption works no matter whether the backups are stored in iCloud or Google Drive.

Popular instant messaging service WhatsApp has rolled out a new security feature that will keep chats safer than ever before. The new end-to-end (E2E) encryption option for chat backups works whether they're saved in iCloud or Google Drive and users get to choose how they're authenticated.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement, saying that users will be able to create their own password or 64-bit key by way of authentication.

While end-to-end encrypted messages you send and receive are stored on your device, many people also want a way to back up their chats in case they lose their phone. Starting today, we are making available an extra, optional layer of security to protect backups stored on Google Drive or iCloud with end-to-end encryption. No other global messaging service at this scale provides this level of security for their users' messages, media, voice messages, video calls, and chat backups.You can now secure your end-to-end encrypted backup with either a password of your choice or a 64-digit encryption key that only you know. Neither WhatsApp nor your backup service provider will be able to read your backups or access the key required to unlock it.

Zuckerberg did note that, with more than two billion users, WhatsApp will need to roll the feature out slowly. If you aren't seeing it yet, sit tight —it's coming. WhatsApp users can find more information about how to enable E2E chat backup encryption on the WhatsApp website, too.

WhatsApp is hugely popular and is one of the best iPhone options for people who want to be able to chat with people on Android devices without falling back to SMS. Features like this go a long way to ensuring the chats people run are safe, even when backed up to third-party servers.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.