WhatsApp announces end-to-end encrypted backups on iCloud

Whatsapp Message Hero
Whatsapp Message Hero (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

What you need to know

  • WhatsApp has just made a massive security announcement.
  • The company is going to offer end-to-end encryption on cloud backups to iCloud and Google Drive.
  • The feature is on its way in the coming weeks.

WhatsApp has today announced that it is bringing end-to-end encrypted chat backups to iCloud and Google Drive.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted stating:

We're adding another layer of privacy and security to WhatsApp: an end-to-end encryption option for the backups people choose to store in Google Drive or iCloud. WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and getting there was a really hard technical challenge that required an entirely new framework for key storage and cloud storage across operating systems.

It means users will now have the option to end-to-end encrypt backups of their chats in the cloud, patching what was a major loophole in the otherwise secure platform that is WhatsApp.

The company says it is the first global messaging service to offer both E2E messaging and backups on both iCloud and Google Drive and says it had to overcome incredible technical challenges. The company says that as a result of the changes encrypted backups will only be accessible to users, with neither WhatsApp nor Apple/Google able to decrypt the messages.

The new feature is rolling out in "the coming weeks", which will give users a 64-digit encryption key they can store offline or a password, TechCrunch explains:

In the "coming weeks," users on WhatsApp will see an option to generate a 64-digit encryption key to lock their chat backups in the cloud. Users can store the encryption key offline or in a password manager of their choice, or they can create a password that backs up their encryption key in a cloud-based "backup key vault" that WhatsApp has developed. The cloud-stored encryption key can't be used without the user's password, which isn't known by WhatsApp.

The move is a big step forward for privacy and security on WhatsApp, as it continues to battle rivals like Signal to win users most concerned about their privacy.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9