Facebook-owned WhatsApp has added an extra layer of privacy and security protection to its messaging app. The company announced that it would now provide end-to-end encryption to chat backups on Google Drive and iCloud as well.
So far, only WhatsApp chats were end-to-end encrypted. This meant that nobody other than the receiver and sender could access and read the messages, not even Facebook and WhatsApp. Now, WhatsApp has now extended this protection to chat backups on Google Drive and iCloud.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Friday that it is the first large-scale messaging app to introduce end-to-end encryption to chat backups.
Announcing the new development, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page, "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."
WhatsApp further noted in the blog post that if users enable end-to-end encrypted backups neither WhatsApp nor backup service providers such as Apple and Google would be able to access the chat backups or the backup encryption key.
The company also revealed that it has come up with a wholly new system for encryption key storage that works with both Android and iOS operating systems. Under the system, chat backups will be encrypted with a unique encrypted key.
WhatsApp will provide the option to users to secure the encryption manually or behind a user password.
"When someone opts for a password, the key is stored in a Backup Key Vault that is built based on a component called a hardware security module (HSM) - specialized, secure hardware that can be used to securely store encryption keys. When the account owner needs access to their backup, they can access it with their encryption key, or they can use their personal password to retrieve their encryption key from the HSM-based Backup Key Vault and decrypt their backup," WhatsApp wrote in the blog post.
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